Virat Kohli confirms Wriddhiman Saha fit for 2nd Test vs New Zealand, says team combination depends on weather


Team India skipper Virat Kohli is available for the second Test against New Zealand beginning at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai from Friday (December 3). Apart from Kohli, wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha has also fully recovered from his stiff neck and is available for the second Test as well.

Saha’s fitness and Kohli’s availability means it might well be a toss-up between Mayank Agarwal and Ajinkya Rahane for the batting spot with debutant Shreyas Iyer solidifying his berth with a century and fifty in Kanpur.

“Saha is fit as of now and he has completely recovered from a stiff neck issue. The combination of the playing XI we have to discuss, keeping in mind the weather conditions in Mumbai. We can’t assume that weather will be like this on all five days of the Test match,” Kohli said in a virtual conference ahead of the second Test in Mumbai.

Kohli himself has happy memories of playing at the Wankhede. The Indian skipper had notched up 235 against England in a Test at the same venue back in 2016.

“I enjoy playing at the Wankhede and have happy memories playing here. You can’t bat in the same manner all the time. If situation demands me to bat longer, keep one end secure, I will bat accordingly,” Kohli said, when asked about Wankhede being a happy hunting ground.

But the Indian captain might have to take some hard decisions especially when it comes to batting line-up in the final playing XI come Friday. Vice-captain Rahane has been going through a rough patch, averaging less than 20 in Test cricket in 2021 while opener Mayank Agarwal also had an ordinary first Test in Kanpur. If India decide to drop Agarwal, someone like a Cheteshwar Pujara might be asked to open the batting in Wankhede.

“All the members of the team understand where the team is placed. We always communicate well and if someone needs to be dropped it is combination based. This is not a difficult task when there is collective trust in the team as we priortise the team first. Discussion always happens in our team in rounded manner,” Kohli revealed, when asked how hard it is to drop someone like a Rahane or Ravichandran Ashwin.

Team India failed to close out the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur earlier this week with the last-wicket pair of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel blunting the Indian bowlers in the final session. Asked if he was disappointed by the final result, Kohli said, “I watched the game and they tried everything they could as a team. Jinx (Ajinkya Rahane) has always brought great ideas to put the opposition under pressure like he did against Australia earlier this year. But sometimes we have got to give credit to the opposition as well for batting out the final session.”

On the sidelines of the Wankhede Test, there is another storm brewing surrounding India’s upcoming tour of South Africa in the shadow of new COVID-19 variant Omicron. Asked if the senior players are discussing the tour of SA, Kohli said, “We are not playing in normal times and hence a lot of planning goes into bio-bubble and other team members joining the quarantine. (Head coach) Rahul Dravid has already initiated conversations with senior members of the team. We’ll also speak to the BCCI soon and we should have some clarity over this in a couple of days.”

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