Cricket – India captain Kohli doubtful for fourth Australia test

Cricket - India v Australia - India team practice session - M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru, India - 03/03/17 - India's captain Virat Kohli dives to catch a ball during a practice session ahead of their second test match. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui
By Amlan Chakraborty | DHARAMSALA, INDIA

India risk missing the inspiring presence of skipper Virat Kohli in the fourth and final test against Australia with the 28-year-old saying he would play only if he is 100 percent fit after sustaining a shoulder injury in the previous match in Ranchi.

The feisty top-order batsman damaged his right shoulder when diving to save a boundary on the first day of the penultimate test in Ranchi and was off the field during most of Australia’s first innings in the drawn game.

Kohli did bat in the nets on Friday but looked downcast as he dwelled on the possibility of featuring in the winner-take-all match of the series which is all square at 1-1.

“The physio wants to give it a bit more time till I can test myself and we’ll probably take a call on it later tonight or tomorrow before the game,” the Delhi player told reporters.

“You want to be fit for the game 100 percent but sometimes you have to respect the fact that these things (injury) are part of your career as well.”

In Kohli’s absence, Ajinkya Rahane led the hosts in Ranchi, a role the Mumbai batsman may have to reprise should the regular skipper sit out with injury.

“These things are bound to happen. You might be very, very fit but an impact injury is an impact injury. I have to accept that fact and try to get 100 percent fit for the game,” Kohli said.

Uncapped Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer has joined as cover for Kohli, who has struggled against the touring Australian side, managing 46 runs in five innings after registering a double century in each of the preceding four series.

Kohli was sure the team would do well even in his absence.

“If not, I’m sure the guys will take it as an opportunity to still take the team ahead,” he said at the Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association Stadium, which will be hosting its first test from Saturday.

“Me playing or not playing should not be so much of a difference to the other 10 guys… I’ve not done anything special so far but still the guys have fought it out. That shows why we are the number one team in the world.”

Rahane’s placid demeanour is exactly opposite to Kohli’s animated brand of captaincy, something even rival skipper Steve Smith has noticed.

“He’s probably a bit more chilled-out out in the field, probably not quite as emotional,” Smith said of his former Pune team mate in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.

“I think he understands the game really well. I’ve been fortunate to play a fair bit of cricket with Ajinkya and I think he rates and understands the game really well.

“If Virat were to miss this match, I’m sure the Indian side will still be in very good hands.”

(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)