England captain Joe Root said his team has strong plans in place for India captain Virat Kohli, who goes into the five-Test series with the baggage of a forgettable tour in 2014. Kohli scored just 134 runs in 10 innings at an average of 13.40 when India, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, toured England in 2014. “From our perspective, we’d love similar form but we know how good a player he is and what he is capable of. He’s come a long way in the last few years in this format in particular. We feel we have some strong plans in place for him but ultimately when you play against the world’s best players they generally have answers,” said Root ahead of the first Test at the Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham.
“I’m sure there are a lot of England fans out there that love watching him play. We obviously know he’s a world proven performer in this format and it’ll be very important for us to try and keep him quiet. But there are some other good players on show within these two teams and it’s important we make sure we outperform India as a whole,” he said.
The build-up to this Test has been marred by curious debate over the inclusion of Rashid who had quit red ball cricket back in February.
Root also backed the selection of the leg-spinner, who will be playing his first Test since December 2016 after being named in the playing eleven ahead of Moeen Ali.
“Criticism against Rashid hasn’t affected us. He’s gone about his business as he has all summer and how he does it in the one-day side. He looks like he’s bowling extremely well and hopefully he can transfer that out in the middle now.
“Obviously I was in favour of the selection and I think it gives us a really great attacking spinning option. In terms of the criticism, people are entitled to their opinions and can voice what they want. I probably think it’s slightly unfair but that’s my opinion,” he said.
It will be England’s 1000th Test, but celebrations will be muted, as a full house is not expected at Edgbaston at least on day one.
“It might not be full just now but I see that as an opportunity for people in this area particularly to come and watch some really good Test cricket. There are some great players on show and two very good teams. I see a big place for Test cricket in the future and I think it’s just really important if we just try and take the game forward as players,” said Root.
(With PTI inputs)