Speaking out in defence on Pujara at the pre-match conference, Kohli said, "It's been going on for a while and I honestly feel a player of his calibre and experience should be left alone and it should be absolutely with the individual to figure out what are the drawbacks in his game.
"Similarly with me or any other player in this team, we are very aware of the things we need to do for the benefit of the team. I can from outside say criticism is unnecessary but I know for a fact that Pujara doesn't care and criticism is as relevant as you want it to be. People can say what they want to say on the outside and those are just words at the end of the day. If you feel they mean no value to you, you just carry on, walking on your path," he added.
At the press conference, Kohli also shared his views on Shardul Thakur. He described the pacer as a multi-dimensional cricketer, who has the potential to become an all-rounder. The Indian captain added, "Yes, he can definitely be created (into an all-rounder). He already is a multi-dimensional cricketer and it's all about him getting more and more confidence... someone like him brings a lot of balance to the Test team or for that matter any format of the game.
“Hardik has done that so far in the past and he is getting back on track to bowling regularly. These kind of cricketers help the team in massive massive way and Shardul is a huge prospect for us. Someone who will be very important not just this series but moving forward as well,” Kohli further said.
Looking back at the 2018 series when India lost 1-4 despite being ahead on a number of occasions, Kohli asserted that the players are better prepared for the challenge this time. The Indian captain stated, “The players, who were inexperienced in 2018 are now more experienced. Yes, there will be failures but we will have enough players to raise their hands up and be counted in pressure situations. The key learning from the last series is understanding the art of damage control. Understanding how to control damage when things are not going your way. Test cricket is all about going through situations and then capitalising when things turn your way.”
The first Test of the five-match series begins in Nottingham from Wednesday
--By A Cricket Correspondent