Hyderabad, Dec 5: India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday (December 5) was all praise for all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja, stating he is presently enjoying the best phase of his career.
"He is probably in the best batting form of his life. This is really his best phase as an all-rounder and we want to maximise that," Kohli said while addressing the media ahead of the first T20 International against the West Indies here on Friday (December 5).
Talking about the team's preparations in the run-up to the ICC T20 World Cup in Australia next year, the 31-year-old stated there is only one spot left to be filled in the team's pace attack, indicating that Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami are almost certain to make the cut.
"The fight obviously is for one spot and I think more or less three guys have made a place for themselves. It's going to be a healthy competition and it will be interesting to see how it pans out," Kohli said.
Referring to India's problem of plenty in pace bowling, Kohli said, as a captain, he couldn't have been happier.
"It's not that big an issue for us. I think Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar) and (Jasprit) Bumrah are experienced bowlers. They have been very consistent in T20 cricket. Deepak (Chahar) has come in and has bowled really well," he told reporters.
"(Mohammed) Shami is coming back and he is bowling really well. If he gets into a rhythm and specifically works on what's required in T20 cricket then he will be very, very useful in places like Australia, especially with his ability to pick wickets with the new ball. He has enough pace to execute yorkers," he added.
The Indian pace attack looks menacing with the return of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami in the T20 set up. Shami last featured in a T20 International in 2017, while Bhuvneshwar returns to the squad after recovering from a muscle problem.
Bhuvneshwar's last T20 was against the West Indies in the Caribbean in August this year. The find of the Bangladesh series, Deepak Chahar, has also made a case for himself with his brilliant display in the last series at home.
"Also a couple of more guys are under the scanner for sealing that spot along with three seamers. It's a good position to be in because everyone is bowling really well," the India captain said.
Team India is at the pinnacle of Test rankings and holds the second spot in ODIs but their performance in the T20Is is scratchy which is also reflected in their rankings. Kohli and his men haven't had much success in T20Is and are placed fifth in the chart. The skipper was also honest enough to admit India's problems in the shortest version of the game.
"I don't think we have been very good while batting first in T20 cricket and defending low totals as well. So those are two things we really need to focus on," he said. "Having said that T20 is a format where you experiment a lot more things than ODI and Test cricket. I think from that point of view you take a lot more risk in terms of what you want.
"As a team, you give a lot of chances to youngsters. So you can't really pinpoint where we stand. The ranking is actually the reflection of the strongest eleven but we haven't really played the strongest eleven together for many games," he added. Kohli said his team is never worried about rankings.
"For us, it's about figuring out who are the players that can make a transition into international cricket and this a good format to see them," he asserted. "Now heading into the World Cup rankings are going to be irrelevant because in T20 anyone can win on the day. We will probably be playing as close to the eleven that we want in the World Cup for the remainder of the T20 games we have, leading up to the World Cup," Kohli said.
Kohli said he expects his players to hit the peak as the World Cup, scheduled in October-November next year, approaches closer.
"It's always good to have challenges as a team and to win a global tournament you need to have all bases covered. T20 is all about being flexible. There won't be a set pattern. We have to be unpredictable," he said.
The duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, also known as 'Kulcha', will reunite after a long time. Kuldeep last featured in the shortest format in February 2019 against New Zealand. Besides Washington Sundar and Ravindra Jadeja are also in the squad. And Kohli hinted that all the four could earn a ticket to Australia.
"Having two wrist spinners is a big advantage when you are playing in Australia in big fields. There might be some games where both might play together. But in T20 cricket, it's all about balance and predominantly we see one guy playing with Jadeja and Washy (Sundar) because it gives us all kinds of variety in the bowling attack.
"You need to have six bowling options in T20 cricket. That's the basic rule. You can't go with five expecting everyone to bowl four good overs. I think that is the balance we need to create," he said.
(With PTI inputs)