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Kohli determined on 6-5 combination for upcoming season

India's decision to play five bowlers in the subcontinent has generated a lot of buzz, and now more importantly, some tangible results. Enough for Virat Kohli to maintain his faith in it

India's decision to play five bowlers in the subcontinent has generated a lot of buzz, and now more importantly, some tangible results. Enough for Virat Kohli to maintain his faith in it.
Although the only Test in Fatullah ended in a draw, the additional help had proved useful as R Ashwin and Harbhajan Singh combined to take eight wickets to force Bangladesh to follow-on. But with rain usurping a giant chunk of the game, the expected end came to pass. But not before Kohli was able to work out a few more permutations to his strategy.
"I would want someone like R Ashwin, who is averaging 40 with the bat in Test matches - you really can't ask for more from an allrounder - and someone like Harbhajan Singh to step up with the bat, and [Wriddhiman] Saha too," Kohli said. "If those three start clicking, you literally have eight batsmen, and you can't really ask for more as a captain. It's basically up to the first six to take more responsibility and we are confident of doing that."
Next on India's docket is a tour to Sri Lanka, before hosting South Africa, who have not lost an away series since July 2006. Naturally, fronting up with a team full of options was a priority for Kohli. Will he retain the present attack with Ashwin and Harbhajan working in tandem?
"I would like to have players who can win us games in the bowling unit. And both of them have that ability," Kohli said. "Especially now that we have a prolonged season in the subcontinent, we need to look at how we can strengthen our team for that as of now. And both of them are good enough to do the same thing when we go away from home as well, it's just about the mindset I guess. The more confidence we build in this season, we'll carry it forward to wherever we play in the future as well.
"Watching them bowl together in a pair was really exciting as a captain. And I think both of them enjoyed bowling together as well - if one put pressure, the other took a wicket and vice-versa."
Kohli is not known as a man who takes a backward step. And he has a simple reason for playing that way. It's fun: "We want to play that sort of cricket. When I captained in my first Test in Adelaide too, I had the same thought process, that we should play aggressively and give ourselves a chance to win the game. You enjoy the game when you play like that.
"I think, as a team, it's very important to have that intensity and attitude especially when we are fielding. Because that is the one time when all 11 players are together and you get the true sense of being a team. We have that understanding in the team that we need to maintain intensity in the field at all times, regardless of the conditions, the pitch, or the situation. If your intent is to win, you will always do well in any situation and come out better than the other team more often than not.
"That's my thinking, but the credit goes to the whole team for responding to that. Because I can think something, but if players don't respond then it's useless. We are all on one page, and in sync. It's a good thing and if we keep building that we'll get even stronger."
Amid India's push to move onward and upward, there were a few moments to reflect on and Kohli was asked about life after MS Dhoni.
"It's obviously strange," he said. "The same thing happened when Sachin Tendulkar retired. A few games after that it was a very strange feeling. You suddenly don't see a very impactful figure in the dressing room. As a cricketer, you always get used to having him around, listening to him, having discussions with him. That voice is always there and it's a very familiar feeling in the change room.
"Now that he's not there, you sometimes do feel he's going to pop out of somewhere. Those sort of things happen, it's a natural process. But now he's decided to retire from this format and everything moves on. The team wants to continue in the same way, that has done well in the subcontinent in the past as well, so we can take that leaf out of his book. He's really helped a lot of us youngsters in becoming good international players. He's given us ample opportunities, so now is the time for us to take up the responsibility and take Indian cricket forward."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo