Kohli calls for double points for away Test wins

Updated October 10, 2019

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PUNE: Indian captain Virat Kohli bats during a practice session on Wednesday, ahead of the second Test against South Africa.—AP
PUNE: Indian captain Virat Kohli bats during a practice session on Wednesday, ahead of the second Test against South Africa.—AP

PUNE: India cricket skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday called for a change in the points system for the new World Test Championship, saying that an away win should get double the reward.

He insisted that the new championship has already improved standards in Tests.

“If you would have asked me to make the points table, I would give double the points for an away Test win,” Kohli said in Pune ahead of his side’s second Test against South Africa. "That is something I would definitely have liked to see, maybe after the first edition.”

The International Cricket Council (ICC) has been determined to create a meaningful competition for Tests, which is typically played over two-innings-a-side and up to five days, and the WTC has been designed to give proper context to bilateral matches.

The Championship will see the top nine Test nations face-off over a two-year period, scoring points based on their success and culminating in a final at Lord’s in June 2021.

World’s top-ranked Test side India lead the standings with three wins from as many matches with away victories against West Indies and the win over South Africa last Sunday.

According to Kohli, the new championship format has given Test cricket a shot in the arm.

“In earlier situations, in a three-match series you probably would have played out a draw, but teams are going to go for wins and get those extra points. So I think it’s great for Test cricket,” he said. “It will be much more demanding on the players now, which is a good thing as it will keep the standard of Test cricket high.”

“I think it’s great for Test cricket, the matches are going to be that much more exciting is what we all feel and we can already experience that.

India notched up a convincing 203-run win in the opening Test against South Africa at Visakhapatnam with an all-round performance and would have a chance to wrap up the three-test series with a game to spare.

While the hosts did not name their playing side with a final call to be taken on the morning of the match on Thursday, Kohli said he did not expect any change looking at the pitch, on which India lost to Australia inside three days in 2017.

“It will have to be a decision taken tomorrow [Thursday] morning,” Kohli said, adding the pitch should be suited to good cricket. “More or less our team is settled. I don’t think it’s going to play that big a factor because when the pitch is damp, it turns as well.

“[But] unless you have a pitch which has total grass coverage, only then you think of changing your combination too much. Because you know it’s going to dry out at some stage.”

India deployed two spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and the same number of fast bowlers in Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma with Hanuma Vihari the spin-bowling all-rounder in their opening win in the series.

Kohli also hailed the turnaround by his new batting and bowling heroes Rohit Sharma and Shami in the South Africa series.

Sharma hit 176 and 127 in his first outing as Test opener, playing a key role in India’s first Test win alongside his five-wicket haul in the final innings.

“He is feeling absolutely at home at the top of the order and for us as a team it’s a huge bonus”, Kohli said.

He added that the 32-year-old Sharma had speeded up the first Test to give the bowlers more time to attack the South African batsmen.

“If a guy like him at the top of the order plays the way he does, he did in the last game, then we are going to be in situations to go for victories in most of the Test matches.”

Shami took 5-35 as India bowled out the tourists for 191 to complete victory.

The 29-year-old, who has struggled with his weight, injury and personal legal issues, also claimed a hat-trick in the World Cup.

“Now, he is taking the responsibility. We don’t need to push Shami anymore,” said Kohli, who added that the bowler was a master of reverse swing. “I think on the pitches we play, I don’t see anyone with so much seam movement.”

Shami took three key wickets on the final day of the Test, including South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis for 13, to hit the tourists’ resistance.

“He is someone who can change the complexion of the match totally when you don’t see it coming. His skill is obviously there for everyone to see,” said Kohli. “Especially, in the second innings, when the situations are difficult he comes in and does the job every time. It’s great.”

Teams (from):

INDIA: Rohit Sharma, Mayank Agarwal, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli (captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Hanuma Vihari, Wriddhiman Saha, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav.

SOUTH AFRICA: Aiden Markram, Dean Elgar, Theunis de Bruyn, Temba Bavuma, Faf du Plessis (captain), Quinton de Kock, Senuran Muthusamy, Vernon Philander, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi, Dane Piedt, Anrich Nortje.

Umpires: Chris Gaffaney (New Zealand) and Nigel Llong (England).

TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (England).

Match referee: Richie Richardson (West Indies).

Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019