The biggest inclusion in Team India's line-up to face South Africa is Ravichandran Ashwin, who had been left out of the team in the previous two Champions Trophy matches against Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Ashwin's exclusion had stoked a debate in the media but now a report in DNA claims that skipper Virat Kohli did not want the off-spinner in the squad which travelled to England itself.
The report says that Kohli was never in favour of Ashwin in the team and had instead pitched the names of Yuzvendra Chahal and Shahbaz Nadeem to the selectors.
However, the report noted that while Nadeem's name was not given much consideration, Chahal's chances were discussed before the selectors went for Ashwin, who has picked 145 wickets in 105 ODIs for India.
Kohli has given his reasons for the ace spinner's exclusion as well as some of the other decisions he has taken since he took over as skipper in January 2017.
"Ashwin is a top-class bowler. Everyone knows that. And he is very professional as well. He understands the dynamics of the side that was picked in the last game and he was absolutely fine with it. He (Ashwin) told me 'I support you whatever you want to do.' That's always been our equation," Kohli had told journalists before India's match versus Sri Lanka.
Kohli also added that there have been "disagreements" with Ashwin but specifically related to on-field technical issues and never ever over selection matters.
"Yes, we do have disagreements on bowling plans and all those sort of things because he is a very smart guy and he has his own plans in place. All those things happen."
As a captain, Kohli has taken some tough calls including promoting Hardik Pandya over Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But he again stressed on the camaraderie in the changing room, which enables him to take the call that is beneficial for the team.
"Not hard (taking tough calls) at all. As I said, it's very hard for people looking from the outside, but the kind of understanding we have within the team, it's difficult to explain. We have a lot of respect among the players and trust among the players," he said.
"There are no issues whatsoever — I mean. I am not saying this because I want to make it sound good but if you guys ever end up experiencing that team environment, you will understand what I am saying, that there is total transparency. Everyone respects and understands what we decide to do as a team. If people react to it differently, then it becomes an issue, but if everyone is supportive of it, then you have no issues at all," Kohli said.
On Umesh Yadav being preferred over a more crafty Mohammed Shami, the skipper's rationale was lack of game time. But he also did not forget to mention about how good the bench strength is when someone of Shami's calibre has to wait for his turn.
"Shami has not played 50-over cricket for a long time. I am glad he bowled really well in the first few practice games but I felt that Umesh, Bhuvi, and Bumrah had much more match practice and the performances to back that up in the last few series we played," Kohli said.
"A bowler like Shami will always be in your set up because we know about his abilities, and he's the sort of guy that can win you games in any form of cricket," he added.
With inputs from PTI