DHARAMSALA: Injured Indian skipper Virat Kohli said Friday he would play the fourth Test against Australia only if he was 100 percent fit, keeping up the suspense over his participation in the series decider.
Kohli, who injured his shoulder during the drawn third Test in Ranchi, said he would undergo fitness tests before taking a final call on whether to take the field in the fourth and final Test which begins Saturday.
“Obviously if I am 100 percent fit for the game (that) is the only condition on which I will take the field,” Kohli, 28, said at the pre-match press conference in Dharamsala.
“The physio can explain better (the risks of playing despite carrying an injury). I don’t know the magnitude of the risk but all I know is the fitness tests, if I go through them I will take the field.”
On Thursday the Indian team management rushed in uncapped batsman Shreyas Iyer as a cover for Kohli, who has led India to victory in nine of their last 12 Tests at home.
Kohli has had a disappointing series against Australia, managing just 46 runs in the first three Tests of a series between the world’s top two sides which is tantalisingly poised at 1-1 as it reaches its climax.
Kohli, who batted in the nets Friday, said the full extent of an injury could only be known in match conditions and that he would strictly follow the advice of the physiotherapist.
“Those are the things you need to keep in mind, the physio wants to give it a bit more time till I test myself,” said the right-hander.
“And probably we will take a call on it later tonight or tomorrow (Saturday) so I think we will have to give that much time more for me to make that call with the physiotherapist.”
‘Rahane more chilled out’
Rival captain Steve Smith said India would still be in very good hands if Kohli was forced out of action, with Ajinkya Rahane having proved his credentials as a stand-in during the Ranchi Test.
Kohli was off the field during most of Australia’s first innings in Ranchi but he did come out to bat at his usual number four position and took the field during Australia’s second innings.
“He (Rahane) is probably a bit more chilled out on the field, probably not as emotional but I think he understands the game really well,” said Smith.
“I have been fortunate enough to play a fair bit of cricket with Ajinkya and I think he reads and understands the game really well.”
Smith and Kohli have been at loggerheads since the Indian skipper accused his opposite number of systematically abusing the Decision Review System (DRS) during the second Test in Bangalore.
Kohli, who has been compared in the Australian press to US President Donald Trump, has especially come under scrutiny both over his form and his conduct under pressure.
Smith however sought to put the controversies on the back burner, saying the team was focused on playing good cricket over the next five days.
“As I said, it’s an exciting time for this team. For me it’s not about worrying about the end or the result,” said Smith, as Australia chase their first Test series win in India in 13 years.
“It’s about focusing on our process and making sure we do those really well. If we can do again and do it for a little bit longer than we did it in Ranchi or Bangalore, then hopefully the result will take care of itself.”
Australia only need to avoid defeat in Dharamsala to retain the Border-Gavaskar trophy.
Whatever the result, India will retain their number one ranking at the end of a season which has seen them host a record 13 Test matches against four different visiting teams.