Sports, Cricket

India ready to bounce back

Published : 01 Feb 2024 09:05 PM

India are “chill” and confident in their bench strength to deliver a second Test bounce-back against England despite missing Virat Kohli and other key players, wicketkeeper K.S. Bharat said Thursday.

Batsmen Sarfaraz Khan and Rajat Patidar are in line for Test debuts from Friday with the hosts trailing the five-match series 1-0. Kohli pulled out of the first two Tests due to unspecified personal reasons and injuries to K.L. Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja after the opener have added to India's worries in Visakhapatnam.

But hometown hero Bharat, 30, said the team's younger members were ready for the challenge.

"Everything is chill and everything is relaxed at the moment and looking to do well as a team. That's the message from captain and coach. We are confident," he said.

"Our bench strength is always ready for a challenge on these kind of tracks. And the guys walking in, I am sure they will definitely do well and take it forward," he added. 

"We are very good at bouncing back after 1-0, but that's a long Test series. We definitely want to play some good brand of cricket."

India got a taste of their own medicine on home turf when England batsman Ollie Pope turned the match on its head with his 196 to blunt the Indian spinners.

Rohit Sharma's men flubbed a first-innings lead of 190 to lose by 28 runs on the fourth day, but Bharat said the team has kept calm.

"After the game, the atmosphere is absolutely relaxed. They just told us not to panic, which we are not," said Bharat.

Bharat had the best seat in the house when Pope used the unorthodox reverse sweep to good effect in his marathon knock as England posted 420 and handed the hosts a target of 231.

Bharat said the home batsmen have a plan to counter the opposition bowlers.

"We play a lot of cricket on these tracks," said Bharat. 

"It's not that we don't know how to sweep, reverse sweep or paddle, but on that particular day depending on the situation of the team we as batters take our calls," he added.

"It is very clear to us to bat with freedom."

The pitch remains in focus with the hosts expected to dish out a turning track in their bid to level the series.

"I haven't look at the wicket to be very honest," Bharat said. 

"Whatever situation, whatever condition it is, you still have to play a good five days of Test and we are looking forward to it."