Kohli under no redemption pressure against England

Rajkot, November 8

Virat Kohli is aware of his rather modest batting record against England but the India captain is not putting himself under any pressure against them in the five-Test series beginning at Rajkot on Wednesday.

Considered one of the premier batsmen of his generation, Kohli averages close to 46 with the bat but it drops drastically to just 20 from 17 innings against the English bowlers.

In the five-Test series in England in 2014, he managed only 134 runs at an average of 13.4 with a highest score of 39. Of his 13 Test centuries, only one came against England at Nagpur in 2012.

“I can put it very simply as that was the phase when I didn’t perform too well and it happened to be England and could have been any other country in the world,” Kohli told reporters on Tuesday.

“It made me realise what I need to improve in my game so I am pretty thankful to England for that. I have been a really improved cricketer from then on.

I just take it as a setback in my career, and not motivate myself in a way that I have to prove people wrong or I have to do something special against a particular opposition.”

The right-hander’s form in the five Tests would be crucial for the hosts if they are to improve their record against England, who have won the last three series against India.

The last time England toured India in 2012, Cook’s side suffered a thumping loss in the opening Test at Ahmedabad but then turned the tables on the hosts to win the four-match series 2-1.

Since then, India have not lost a Test at home, blanking Australia and West Indies, crushing South Africa and whitewashing New Zealand in September.

In contrast, England are still smarting from their loss in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka where they shared the two-Test series 1-1 with the minnows.

It prompted Cook to label his side as ‘underdogs’ against India, currently the top Test team. “I think some team might want to play it down at the start of the series and then surprise the opponent but we are quite aware of those things,” Kohli said.

“At the same time we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. We understand what we need to do, so we are not going to get swayed away or carried away by the praise or adulation.”

Cook hints at giving up captaincy

RAJKOT: Alastair Cook has hinted he may step down as England’s Test captain after their five-match series in India that begins on Wednesday.

“Deep down I don’t know how much longer I am going to carry on. It could be two months, it could be a year,” the 31-year-old told the October issue of Cricketer magazine.

“It makes me feel very satisfied that I’ve been able to do it for a long period of time and I’ve had a really good crack at it.” Cook, who will surpass Michael Atherton’s England record of 54 matches as Test skipper after the first match in India, replaced Andrew Strauss as skipper in 2012.

He has led England to 24 Tests victories, including a 2-1 series win over India on the subcontinent in 2012.

Cook, who has scored 10,688 runs at an average of just below 47 in 135 Tests, with 29 centuries, said he would keep on playing for the foreseeable future.

“I do look forward to the day when hopefully I can play a Test match as just a batter, there’s no doubt about that,” the left-handed opening batsman added.

“If that happens, I’m going to really enjoy standing at first slip and being the bloke who makes suggestions to whoever’s in charge and not being the bloke who has to make the final decision.”