India captain Virat Kohli has no qualms over who stars for his side so long as they win.
The tourists head into the second Test at Lord’s starting on Thursday 1-0 down in a five-match series after England won the first Test at Edgbaston by 31 runs last week.
That was despite star batsman Kohli making exactly 200 runs in the game, including a superb first-innings 149 — his maiden Test century in England.
If only another member of India’s much-vaunted top-order had made a sizeable contribution, the result may well have been different.
“It hurts when you are not scoring runs (and) as well, the team is not doing well,” Kohli said ahead of the crunch clash at the hone of cricket.
“It is not like I feel bad that I got runs and we couldn’t get across the line,” added Kohli, now the world’s top-ranked batsman in both Test and one-day international cricket.
“It is purely because we haven’t won the games. If I hadn’t got the runs and we had won, I would have got a totally different feeling — that’s a very natural aspect of playing team sport.
“It is unfortunate we haven’t been able to cross the (winning) line after coming so close, that is the only thing we are looking to, how we cross the line.
“It doesn’t matter whether I get (over) the line or Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane) does or (Murali) Vijay does or KL (Rahul) does or whoever does.
“As long as we cross the line, that is the only thing that matters,” Kohli insisted.
India were dismissed for under 300 in their first innings at Edgbaston and then failed to chase down a target of 194 second time around, being bowled out for 162 after Kohli made 51.
“There must be a clear plan on how to face the first 20-30 balls, and more often than not that plan does not involve aggression,” said Kohli, who was extremely watchful against swing king James Anderson, England’s all-time leading Test wicket-taker, at Edgbaston.
“Then we need some composure,” he added. “As a batting unit, we have discussed that.
“From outside it looks very bad, especially as it is Test cricket and we are playing in England where it is anyway difficult.
“But we only need to bring down the margin of error and beyond that we don’t need to worry too much.”
NEW BOY POPE TO START AT No.4 FOR ENGLAND
Meanwhile England have revealed that new boy Ollie Pope will bat at No.4 on his debut.
The 20-year-old Surrey rising star is a direct replacement for Middlesex left-hander Dawid Malan, dropped after two low scores in England’s 31-run win in the first Test at Edgbaston last week.
Uncapped Essex paceman Jamie Porter has been omitted from a 13-man squad, with England yet to decide whether Chris Woakes or spinner Moeen Ali will replace all-rounder Ben Stokes, who misses out due to his ongoing court case.
“Ollie will come in and bat at four. He’s obviously batted at six for Surrey this season — but having seen him play a little bit, and the way his game is set up, I think it’s very much transferable to bat at four.
“I know that might be seen as quite a big jump. But he’s obviously an exciting talent and, with the guys around him, I think he fits nicely into that position in our team.”
Pope only made his first-class debut in March last year and has been called into the squad on the back of a mere 15 matches, while he has never batted in the top five in County Championship cricket.
Yet this season has seen Pope make 684 runs for Championship leaders Surrey at an average of 85.5, including three centuries.
“He’s very mature for a young man,” said Root.
“I’m looking forward to him, more than anything, just going out there and being himself — and playing exactly as he has done throughout this summer.”
Kohli welcomed Pope to the world stage by saying: “It is going to be a big occasion for him. I am happy for him, as a cricketer, I understand how important it is.
“I I will tell him to enjoy the occasion, and not get too many runs,” Kohli jokingly added.