Virat Kohli India Ireland England 2018
Virat Kohli © Getty Images (file photo)

Virat Kohli said Friday that he will be backing his wrist spinners, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, to give India the edge over a rampant ODI England side in their upcoming mammoth tour. “What’s been the difference for us is the two X-factors we have in the middle overs. We have actually been able to create flat wickets into wicket-taking wickets with the variety we have in the attack,” he told a pre-departure news conference.

This is what “did the job” in India’s recent 5-1 ODI series triumph in South Africa, Kohli said, with Chahal and Yadav sharing 33 wickets between them.

England are in fine form, however, currently one victory away from a 5-0 ODI whitewash against Australia after smashing some record-breaking batting totals.

This included a huge 481 for 6 at Trent Bridge earlier this week and chasing down an eminently respectable 310 with 32 balls to spare at Chester-le-Street on Thursday.

The batsmen have been helped by the use of two new balls, and white instead of red, which has massively reduced the danger posed by swing bowling.

This has irked the likes of Michael Atherton and Sachin Tendulkar, and Kohli agreed it has been “brutal” for the bowlers. However, Kohli didn’t appear worried: “If the pitch is flat then you have no way out unless you have wrist spinners who do the job in the middle overs. Not every side has that cushion so they find it difficult.”

The Indian side will first play 2 T20Is in Ireland starting on June 27 before moving on to England for the next three months. There India will play three T20Is, 3 ODIs, and 5 Tests, starting with a 20-over game in Old Trafford on July 3.

Kohli said that in the Tests, when the ball will most definitely swing for England danger-men James Anderson and Stuart Broad, India will fight fire with fire: “The swinging ball has the tendency to trouble the best of batsmen. But then that helps our fast bowlers as well.”

He said that having the ODI series first will help: “By the time the Test series arrives, we won’t feel like we are playing an away series.”

“King Kohli” had an uncharacteristically ordinary spell during his last England tour in 2014, managing just 134 runs in 10 innings. But Kohli, who pulled out of his county stint with Surrey after a neck injury during IPL, insisted that he is fit and raring to go. He said he was “excited to get back to the field which is rare in times when we play so much cricket.”

The world’s top Test side, often labelled tigers at home and lambs abroad, were lauded for their recent performance in South Africa. After losing the first 2 Tests India came back to win the third five-day match and the ODI and T20 series to end on a high.

“This is an exciting time because what happened in South Africa we are actually looking forward to playing more difficult Test cricket,” said Kohli.