West Indies v India, 1st Test, Kingston, Jamaica June 19, 2011

Kohli, Bishoo aim to cement Test spots

This series will be the first serious challenge for two ambitious young men in a hurry to grow

Seventeen years ago, Devendra Bishoo's father, Mohanlal, died with a wish. Five years ago, Virat Kohli's father, Prem, died with a dream. They wanted their sons to play cricket for the country. Those sons, now young men, are at a cusp, peering down paths their fathers had laid out for them.

"I remembered the times I used to get home from school and would spend a lot of time bowling at my father," Bishoo says. "He was a great help to me and I am happy I have made him proud, even though he is not here to see me."

Kohli's story is poignant. He was not out at stumps for Delhi in a Ranji Trophy game when his father died during the night. He turned up to bat next morning, rescued his team from trouble with an innings of 90, shook his head at a replay that confirmed he shouldn't have been given out and left for the crematorium.

The stories of Kohli and Bishoo had differences for a while. Kohli went astray for two years, especially after the Under-19 World Cup victory, but he shook himself out of a bad phase and found his path once again. Bishoo was already there.

Both of them have a confidence that is striking. Kohli could have learned to swagger before he learned to walk. Bishoo has a calmness and strength about him. They are considered important parts of their country's cricketing future, and they are aware of it. This series is both a test and an opportunity.

Kohli doesn't appear to be a great batsman at first glance. He looks to be a good one. It's his demeanour that sets him apart from most men his age and others too. That cocky, teenage confidence has matured into the confidence of an assured, aware batsman. Kohli's game is simple and his improvement is that he has tried to make it simpler. He quickly glides towards the line of the ball and nudges it into gaps. He uses his signature swat-flick to send length deliveries in line with his stumps to the square-leg boundary. He drives on the up and can pull, but rarely hooks.

The short ball will be his test, especially on the fast and bouncy surface at Sabina Park. Kohli has had no problem against it in international cricket but, in a domestic game a couple of years ago, Zaheer Khan had unsettled him with short balls delivered from a left-armer's angle. He has worked on that aspect of the game in his development as a batsman. During Saturday's net session, Kohli faced tennis balls served at him from a short distance by Duncan Fletcher. The balls would rear up and fly of Kohli's hands or body. The coach then had a word with his ward and soon Kohli was swaying and bobbing out of the way.

Bishoo looks a good legspinner. He wants to be a great one. It will be fascinating to see how he gets there. He turns the legbreak, has a topspinner and his flipper is a work in progress. He hasn't reached a stage where he can drop the ball where he desires. He pitches it short or slips it wide every once in a while. His brain is buzzing all the time, though. During the 2011 World Cup, Bishoo adjusted to the slower surfaces and did two things: he slowed his pace further but would suddenly slip in quicker deliveries. He was learning on the go, and he was learning quickly. The best thing about Bishoo is his stock ball. He gets the legbreak to spin with some bounce.

Bishoo will be tested this series. Bowling to VVS Laxman and co is one of the harder exams to pass. Another challenge is that Indian batsmen tackle spin in vastly different, accomplished ways. He cannot have just one plan to set up a batsman. Laxman has supple wrists, Rahul Dravid uses the crease the best, often pressing right back to tailor his length, MS Dhoni rarely moves his front foot across, Kohli drives on the front foot and Suresh Raina skips out.

"I want to be a great bowler for West Indies," Bishoo had said. Kohli, too, said he has a burning desire to prove himself as a Test batsman. Fletcher called him "the future of Indian cricket". This series, which begins in Jamaica on Monday, will be the first serious challenge for two ambitious young men in a hurry to grow.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Surimada on June 22, 2011, 0:24 GMT

    The Future Indian Batting Line up after Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman. G Gambhir V Sewag V Kohli R Sharma Yuvraj S Raina ------------ Kindly Suggest Bench

  • bismoy on June 21, 2011, 3:13 GMT

    @ Nicholas_Clarke Hope you got answer why raina is selected not overhype domestic player badri..

    Some of domestic player like rahana and badri are simply overhype due to huge run they scored in domestic scene where bowling attack is of kid levels....

    Thankfully team mangement given priority of talent over run scored in flat track...raina is future in test not some rahana or badri...

    shewag has ordinary domestic avg but he has talent ..now see where he is...

    Raina,rohit and kohli must be given more chance,,,,,they are future...rest are flat tack bully........

  • likeintcricket on June 21, 2011, 2:06 GMT

    West Indies provided the morale booster to India after getting 6 wickets cheaply. On this kind of pitch 246 is a winning total unless someone plays a very good inning from West Indies. Playing 4th inning on this surface is not WI wants.

  • dummy4fb on June 21, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    few people mentioned about Pujara, he is injured guys that is the reason why he is not picked into the side. Selectors didn't forget him!! Mukund has a good reputation as a test player based on his temperment and the amount of runs he scored in domestic level, it only his first chance let us wait and see what he does. Vijay got enough chances, selectors need to find a replacement for him as a 3rd opener. Virat Kohli, people are expecting a lot and puting more pressure on him, nothing wrong that is what happens with lovers. We always want our favourite players to score runs, hope Virat does that.

  • TheUltimateTruth on June 21, 2011, 0:23 GMT

    Those of you asking for Pujara, he is injured. Please stop being critical of the selectors when you don't have the facts. It just makes for tedious reading. Vijay has been successful in tests in the past so he is a good selection in the absence of Sehwag and Gambhir. He failed today, but so did Kohli and Laxman -- so are we supposed to drop them too? Mukund virtually demanded to be selected given his domestic performance. Badri was rightly behind Kohli and Raina in the final 11. He didn't have a good enough ODI in these conditions to merit selection over a proven Kohli or Raina. I think we have the best 11 (and the larger team as a whole) given that many of the seniors are absent.

  • dummy4fb on June 20, 2011, 23:45 GMT

    @thehytool Pujara is injured. Also, he does not open the innings. Abhinav Mukun was one of the highest run-getter last season. Who could have Rohit Sharma come in place of?

  • thehytool on June 20, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    I'm seriously asking question to selection panel of Indian team. why should they choose Vijay, Mukund? still you have class player like Cheteshwar Pujara? Raina and Kohli are still to be matured but they should be IN as far as the future is concerned. But Cheteshwar Pujara is the Biggest question!

  • sai_prashanth on June 20, 2011, 18:42 GMT

    chatteswar pujara is not given enough chances. does he have injury too?

  • Nicholas_Clarke on June 20, 2011, 16:52 GMT

    Why is Raina (FC Average: 43.15) getting selected ahead of all the other Indian batsmen who are averaging in the mid-50s and above?

  • MaruthuDelft on June 20, 2011, 16:17 GMT

    Noone needs to worry about Kohli; he already is a world class player; he will be the mainstay of Indian batting and he could do a better job than Tendulkar if he doesn't get bored of cricket. It is sad to think of the scene that Badri may not get chance number 3. What is the point in trying Vijay in tests? Mukund looks to have little time to play. Sehwag and Ghambi are going to return anyways so why can't the selectors try Badri at slot 1 or 2? How can Murali or Mukund be better players than Badri? In Indian cricket 'batting position based allocation of slots' is unfair; there is so much competition out there; Mukund plays Badr benched; Ridiculous.

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