India's Kohli asks batsmen to step up
MUMBAI - India have the bowling strength to dismiss any opposition, but their fate in the four-test series in Australia will depend on their batsmen, captain Virat Kohli said on Thursday.
The trip to Australia will be the last chance in 2018 for Kohli's men to match their formidable home form with success abroad and show the world why they are the world's top-ranked test side.
Kohli has had strong recent returns from India's fast bowlers, which could be crucial to his hopes of winning the test series Down Under, which begins in December.
Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav have all been part of the pace attack in recent tests and India are travelling to Australia at full strength in that department.
The likes of Shami, Ishant and Bumrah were impressive on recent tours of South Africa and England while Umesh became only the third Indian paceman after Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath to claim 10 wickets in a home test when he helped the hosts to a 10-wicket victory against West Indies in the second test.
"After a long time we feel like we can pick up 20 wickets every game which I think is a great feeling to have but the whole combination has to come together for us to win series and not just one test match and feel happy about it," Kohli told reporters ahead of India's departure for Australia.
India, who last lost a test series at home in late 2012 against England, started the year with a 2-1 loss to South Africa but then thrashed debutants Afghanistan at home in a one-off test before flying to England.
They lost the five-match series 4-1 before thrashing West Indies 2-0 with both matches ending inside three days.
"We are all feeling very good that we have a great bowling attack now but then our batsmen need to step up as well," Kohli said.
"We have spoken again as a team after England and everyone is really keen to correct those things and put in a complete performance.
"So we put in a complete performance for a day and we want that to last for a series and for that to happen people have to take more ownership in every test match that we play."
Kohli said the contribution from the lower-order batsmen will prove crucial.
While he feels the team has made progress despite their losses away from home, head coach Ravi Shastri said the series in Australia will be decided on mental toughness.
"It is just seizing those moments, getting tough mentally, when the going gets tough," former India player Shastri said.
India will play a three-match Twenty20 series before the first test starts in Adelaide on Dec. 6. Perth, Melbourne and Sydney will host the remainder of the tests followed by a three-match one-day international series.