Kohli looks to cement team’s top order against Windies
India skipper Virat Kohli Wednesday said they are looking to cement the team's top order against the West Indies as teenager Prithvi Shaw was named in the final 12 for the first Test.
The world's number one Test side suffered from inconsistent top order contributions during their overseas tours of South Africa and England, losing 1-2 and 1-4 respectively.
The two-match West Indies series starting in Rajkot on Thursday gives India an opportunity to work on their problem areas ahead of the all-important tour of Australia.
"I think the top order getting cemented with these two Test matches, that's what we are looking at," Kohli told reporters. "These guys are new, so they will take a bit of time to get into it but they definitely have the skillset."
The 18-year-old Shaw, who was chosen ahead of uncapped Mayank Agarwal and one-Test old Hanuma Vihari, is expected to open the batting alongside Lokesh Rahul.
Shaw has accumulated 1418 runs in 14 first-class games including seven centuries and made a strong showing for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 tournament.
Left-hander Shikhar Dhawan managed just 162 runs in eight innings in seaming English conditions and was subsequently dropped ahead of the West Indies series.
"We know as a team and everyone on the outside also knows the areas we need to improve on and definitely if you look at sides that win Test matches contributions at the top and contributions in the lower order are more crucial," said Kohli. "Because whatever happens in the middle is connected to either the top order or what the lower order does."
Kohli, who was criticised for sitting out the Asia Cup which was eventually won by the Rohit Sharma-led India in the UAE, said rest in between long tours will be key for keeping players fit ahead of the World Cup in 2019.
"I am feeling rejuvenated again. It was mental and physical both because of the intensity of the two tours, both South Africa and England," said Kohli.
"I definitely needed the break because my back went once in South Africa then it went again (in) England,” said Kohli. "Looking at the World Cup I think these things are very important to consider, to give players ample rest and opportunity to train well and come back stronger."
India team for Rajkot Test:
Virat Kohli (captain), Lokesh Rahul, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant (wicketkeeper), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur.