Trevor Bayliss has warned his England tourists of the folly of concentrating exclusively on the threats posed by India’s two highest-profile players.
Home captain Virat Kohli is revered as one of the world’s elite batsmen, and Ravi Ashwin – No 1 bowler in the International Cricket Council’s current rankings after his 27 wickets in the 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand – is almost universally predicted to put England in a spin again.
Asked which of the two is likely to be his team’s biggest problem in a five-Test series starting in Rajkot on Wednesday, however, England coach Bayliss chose to widen the focus.
The Australian began by deflecting the question, with a smile: “Well, if Kohli’s bowling, it might be a bit different.”
That will rarely if ever be the case over the next six weeks, of course – although there is a possibility of Ashwin, who made an unbeaten 91 against England in Kolkata on their last trip four years ago, hurting them again with the bat.
Either way, as England seek an improbable repeat of their overdue series win on that last tour, Bayliss’s advice is to be wary of the opponents’ collectively.
“They’re both very good players, (but) if we concentrate on just two of their players that would probably be the wrong way to go,” he said.
“They’ve got more than two very good players.
“We’ve got to concentrate, number one, on our approach and the way we go about our cricket.
“We’ve found that’s been our best approach in the last couple of years. But obviously there are a number of good players in the Indian team that we’ve got to make sure we bat and bowl well against.”
For Bayliss, there will be no hard-and-fast decisions on line-ups until he has had a proper sight of conditions at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, staging its first Test.
“We’ve probably answered one or two questions and come up with an extra one or two,” he said.
“When we see that wicket we’ll make a decision which way we’ll go.”