India should have five permanent Test centres like Aussie, England: Kohli

Virat Kohli, South Africa tour of India, BCCI, Test centres,
Indian captain Virat Kohli celebrates after winning the Test series against South Africa at JSCA Stadium, in Ranchi. Photo: PTI

India captain Virat Kohli feels that time has come for the BCCI to zero in on five permanent Test centres for future home series, similar to the English and Australian model when top teams tour those countries.

The skipper proposed the idea of permanent Test centres while addressing the media during the post-match press conference after India whitewashed the three-match Test series 3-0 against South Africa in Ranchi by an innings and 202 runs on Tuesday (October 22).

In Australia, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, and Adelaide are the five designated Test centres whenever the big teams come calling.

Similarly in England, the Lord’s, Oval, Trent Bridge, Old Trafford, Edgbaston, Southampton and Headingley are the seven main Test centres for any marquee series (Ashes/India).

Asked about the lukewarm response in Ranchi, the Indian skipper lapped up the question.

“That’s a great question. We have been discussing this for a long time now. And in my opinion, we should have five Test centres. Period,” the skipper made his point, something that the new BCCI president Sourav Ganguly might now have to look into.

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“Look if you want to keep Test cricket alive and exciting, I totally agree with the fact that we need five-Test centres at max. It can’t be sporadic and spread over so many places where people turn up or they don’t,” the skipper didn’t mince words.

“So in my opinion, absolutely, we should have five strong Test centres where the team coming to India knows that this is where we’re going to play and nowhere else,” he said.

The BCCI follows the rotation policy across formats but it has now more than 15 Test centres.

“I mean, I agree that you have state associations, rotation and giving games and all that. That is fine in T20 and ODI cricket, but for Test cricket teams coming into India should know we are going to play at these five centres.

“These are the pitches we’re going to expect. These are the kind of people they’re going to come to watch, crowds,” Kohli reasoned.

The Indian captain sees this as a challenge just like his team faces when they hit foreign shores.

“That becomes a challenge already when you’re leaving the shores because we go to any place, we know we’re having four Tests at these venues. This is what the pitch is going to offer. It’s going to be full stadium, the crowds behind the team,” he said.

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Key to India’s successive victories

Speaking about the key to get results from the national squad, Kohli opined that honesty while playing a game is the reason for the stupendous aggregates the team is currently delivering.

India have now won 11 successive series at home under Kohli’s leadership.

“As long as we keep working with honest intent, those things will follow. We have wanted to be the best team in Test cricket, and as long as we compete, things will work out well for us,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

The best part about the win was taking the conditions out of the equation, said Kohli. “Amazing. You guys have seen how we’re playing. Making things happen on pitches that don’t seem to offer too much, is something we’re very proud of,” the skipper said.

While spinners got 34 wickets, the pacers, in conditions which were not exactly bowler-friendly, snared 26 scalps with Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami doing the bulk of the damage.

“Even when we travelled away from home, we wanted to compete. Getting into the right kind of mindset is something these guys have worked really hard to get into… To be the best side in the world, you have to be multi-dimensional,” the skipper said.

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“Spin was always our strength, batting was never a problem for us. Ishant (Sharma) was the only experienced bowler for us. We said we can play an extra bowler, and as batsmen we said we’ll get the job done.”

“We’ve got runs in every Test match, our catching has been good too. (Goal) As I said, even without much experience, we travelled very well. We believe we can win anywhere,” the skipper added.

His counterpart Faf du Plessis also agreed that it was a high-quality pace bowling from India. “I think its the skill of the bowlers. They have a skiddy nature and they hit the right spots and the stumps at all times. Those are the things we talked about before we came here, but naturally, the length in South Africa has to be a little shorter, and that takes time to adjust,” Du Plessis said.

The fight tapered off after the first Test in Visakhapatnam and du Plessis acknowledged that his side wasn’t up to it. “That’s the frustrating part of the tour. There were some really good signs, but it went the other way,” the Proteas skipper said when dissecting performance on the tour.

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“Every Test, we made more mistakes. But we have to give credit to the Indian team. They were ruthless and they were better than us in every department – spin bowling, fast bowling, batting and even the fielding. They are a difficult team to overcome.”

“The mindset after 2015 was to prepare ourselves for really spinning tracks, but it’s been the opposite. Really sporting tracks – fantastic for fast bowlers and even for batsmen. There’s a lot to learn for us,” he added.

The visiting skipper said that this is a young team that would learn to fight its way out of trouble in adverse conditions.

“It’s important that we have some young guys, and they’ll experience this in 3-4 years ago. It was important for us to take something back again. “We have to learn to compete the next time again. This is the toughest tour on the circuit… (India’s) 11 series wins in a row bears testament to that.”

(With inputs from agencies)