(Reuters) – Keeping India’s pace battery fully charged will be crucial to the team’s ICC World Test Championship chances, skipper Virat Kohli said following their win over West Indies in the first test on Sunday.
Jasprit Bumrah took five wickets for seven runs while fellow fast bowler Ishant Sharma claimed three as India recorded their biggest ever away win by runs, thrashing the hosts by 318 runs in Antigua.
Bumrah’s fourth five-wicket haul made him the only Asian to achieve the feat in South Africa, England, Australia and West Indies, and Kohli justified the decision to rest the 25-year-old for the three ODIs and three T20 games before the tests.
“That’s why Bumrah didn’t play any white-ball cricket after the World Cup because we wanted him fresh for the tests,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“He’s going to be a key factor for us as long as the test championship continues. We know how good a bowler he is and the impact he can make in a spell.
“That’s probably the most important thing for us right now, managing player workloads.”
The inaugural championship involves the nine top-ranked test nations competing in a league between July 2019 and April 2021, with the top two sides progressing to the final which will be held in England in June 2021.
“Mohammed Shami is the same (as Bumrah). Ishant Sharma is a banker for years now and he can make an impact in any spell he bowls. Those three together are bowling well,” Kohli added.
“Umesh Yadav hasn’t had a game, and we have Navdeep Saini, who can bowl 150 clicks (kmph), waiting in the wings. We’re pretty settled as far as our bowling options are concerned.”
In another positive sign, vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane scored his first century in international cricket in over two years, scoring 102 in the second innings while Hanuma Vihari made 93.
All-rounder Vihari, preferred ahead of batsman Rohit Sharma due to his part-time off-spin, said he was working on his bowling to keep his place.
“It’s important that my off-spin keeps developing, not only for myself but for the team as I fit in just because of that combination,” Vihari told a news conference.
“I’m trying to … get better at it. So, hopefully, I’ll get more overs and help the team in the future.”
The second and final test begins in Jamaica on Friday.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)