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Mohali: He made his Test debut under Virat Kohli and as the superstar-batter gears up for his 100th outing in the format, Indian pace spearhead and current vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah said the landmark game is a reflection of his former skipper’s dedication towards the game.

Kohli’s 100th Test would be against Sri Lanka beginning here on March 4. Bumrah made his Test debut under Kohli’s leadership in 2018. “It is always a special achievement for a player. You know it is a testimony to his hard-work, dedication,” Bumrah said in an online press conference here.

“…(playing) 100 Test matches for your country is a great occasion and he has contributed a lot to the success of the Indian team and will contribute a lot more in the future as well,” he added.

“It is another feather in his (Kohli’s) cap. I just wish him the best and congratulate him for the achievement.” Asked if he would like to gift Kohli something on the special occasion, Bumrah said, “If the Indian team wins, then there is no best (better) present than that. But he (Kohli) as a cricketer would like to give his best.”

“Whichever match we play, whether it is his 100th Test, yes obviously, (it is) a big achievement and it is a testimony to his hard work, but India’s main focus is on the series.”

The Mohali Test will be played behind closed doors and asked whether it was a bit of a downer, Bumrah said, “See, right now we are in the frame of mind, where we are focusing on what we can control.”

“(If) the crowds come, it is good for the energy, but that is something that we cannot control, we don’t have any power regarding that, we don’t decide the rules,” he made it clear.

“So, for us what we can control is our energy, so we are trying to focus on that, and that is the basic thing in everybody’s mind right now, that how do we prepare. We are in the best frame of mind, even if crowds are not there, so how do we keep that energy up. And with that, obviously, as I said, it is a big, big day, a big match for Virat Kohli,” added Bumrah.

So far, Kohli has scored 7,962 runs from 99 Test matches after making his debut against the West Indies at Kingston in 2011.

Pacer says Ashwin is shaping up well

Meanwhile, Bumrah revealed that ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who has been recovering from an unspecified injury he suffered in January, is shaping up well and looking “comfortable during training” ahead of the upcoming Test.

The 35-year-old Ashwin missed the recent white-ball series against West Indies at home as well as the three-match T20I contest against visiting Sri Lanka due to the injury. “The Test team had already come before and they were practising, he (Ashwin) is shaping up well and I don’t know, I am not aware that there are any complaints,” Bumrah said at the virtual press conference ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka beginning here from Friday.

“He (Ashwin) looked good, he looked very comfortable in training today. He was bowling, batting, fielding, he did everything, so I think he is shaping up really well.” Acknowledging the crucial role Ashwin plays in the Indian Test team set-up, Bumrah said, “He plays a very important role whenever we play, so his role will be important and hopefully there would (will) be no troubles going forward.” Ashwin has 430 wickets from 84 Tests.

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Author: Howard Caldwell