Kohli relishing return as India chase series win over New Zealand

By Sports Desk December 02, 2021

Virat Kohli is ready to put in the "hard yards" with the bat as he returns to India duty for the series-deciding second Test against New Zealand.

Captain Kohli elected to sit out the T20I series and the first Test against the Black Caps and has been working with former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar during his time away from the team.

He has made 41 centuries across all formats as captain of India, which puts him level with Ricky Ponting for the most while serving as an international skipper, and Kohli declared he feels ready to stay at the crease for a long time in Mumbai. Kohli's last international century came over two years ago, in November 2019 against Bangladesh.

Ahead of Friday's start to the match, rain impeded the teams and meant practice sessions at the Wankhede Stadium could not go ahead as planned on the eve of the Test.

Both sides were toying with selection options as a result of the weather, and it remained to be seen who would make way for Kohli's return, with Ajinkya Rahane perhaps the batter most vulnerable despite captaining India in the first Test.

Kohli said: "I really enjoy playing at the Wankhede. That's a ground that I've always had happy memories in. More than that, I think it's the impact you leave on the team that matters to me more. That was the focus in the past and that's precisely my focus every time I take the field.

"If the situation demands me to bat for longer periods and get the amount of runs that puts the team in a pole position or a dominant position or gets the team out of trouble, I take a lot of pride in doing that.

"Not all the time will you have phases where you bat the same way, and you have to understand and accept that in a long career span, so it's all about putting in the hard yards, working hard on your game, staying very balanced, staying in a space where you understand you are progressing in the right direction, and you walk on the field knowing you're prepared fully and you're ready to give your best, and after that it's all about execution.

"You have to be professional and understand when there is lack of execution or there is a lack of good decision-making. That's always been my point of analysis on my personal game, whether I've committed a mistake, what the situation was like, how can I improve, how can I get better, and that is something I will continue to strive to do and try to put in the performances that help the team in any way that I can."

It will be Kohli's first match under new coach Rahul Dravid, and follows on from the drawn opening Test in Kanpur that saw New Zealand's 10th-wicket pairing of Rachin Ravindra and Ajaz Patel defy India, clinging on for the draw late on the fifth day.


Spin or extra speed? The choice facing both teams

With plenty of moisture in the air, and the suspicion the Mumbai pitch will serve the quicks well, there could well be changes to the bowling line-ups on both teams. India would consider bringing in Mohammed Siraj, while New Zealand have Neil Wagner waiting to come in, with William Somerville potentially vulnerable.

India chasing hat-trick of Wankhede wins

The hosts last played a Test at this ground in 2016, when Kohli made a double century in an innings win over England. They also won at the ground in the match before that, also by an innings but this time against West Indies. Victory by any means would be welcomed by India this time, given this is the second and last match in the series. They have won four of nine Tests at the ground since 2000, with South Africa, Australia and England (twice) having also enjoyed victories at the Wankhede.

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