Missing the services of premier spinner Ravindra Jadeja due to a suspension, Indian captain Virat Kohli on Friday urged the International Cricket Council (ICC) to be more consistent in implementing rules pertaining to the players' code of conduct. Jadeja, who was named Man of the Match in the second Test against Sri Lanka for his outstanding performance in Colombo, was suspended from the third and final Test of the series to be held from August 12 in Pallekele. Jadeja's demerit points reached six within a 24-month period, following his latest breach of the ICC Code of Conduct for which he received a 50 per cent fine and three demerit points. He had admitted the offence and accepted the sanction.
"I think players have to be much more aware going ahead and just hoping that the guidelines are very similar from now on. Because it shouldn't vary according to how the situation is looked at," Kohli said in the pre-match press conference ahead of the third and final Test against Sri Lanka here.
"So if it is consistent then I think it is going to be a good going ahead because players will obviously be more aware of how they need to conduct themselves on the field. It will only help the game get better," he added.
Speaking on the suspension, Kohli said players should understand the ICC's rules but the governing body should show greater consistency while making such vital decisions.
Kohli said with clarity on the rules, the players would be less prone to violating them.
"Firstly we need to be very clear on what are the things that fall into it and what are the things that a player needs to keep in his mind while being on the field. Lot of things happen on the field, which in the thick of things or heat of the moment you end up doing," he explained.
"But you don't know what's going to cause you one or two or three points. So I think the intent counts nowadays and that's something that players need to keep in mind. It might be a very small thing but if the intent is to do something bad then obviously that is something that counts against the player," said Kohli.
The series has been pocketed but Kohli ruled out making wholesale changes to the side in the inconsequential match. India won the first two Tests in Galle and Colombo comfortably and now have a chance to score a rare 3-0 overseas victory.
And perhaps keen on clinching a clean-sweep, Kohli said he would like to maintain continuity.
"To play consistent cricket, you need to make sure that players are playing on a regular basis. Those who are performing and those who are doing well should continue in more games than not and to be a consistent side I think we need to have continuity as well unless the situations where things are not controllable arise," Kohli said in a pre-match press conference.
"So we certainly don't want to take anything lightly. We want to play the same kind of cricket that we have and hopefully, retain the team that played the last game as much as we can. We are certainly not thinking of too many changes at all, especially in this format, because you don't want to start taking things for granted and lose that momentum," he added.
Kohli rejected suggestions that this could demoralise players, who have not yet got a chance to play.
"Managing players who don't get a chance is also a skill. It is not easy because everyone wants to play and luckily we have such players who are just waiting for opportunities. We don't have players who are happy to sit out," Kohli said.
"In a team environment everyone knows that only 11 players can play. So in professional sport they understand this aspect. They are intelligent so you don't get too many of such questions. They understand the dynamics of the team and they make our job easier because their attitude is so good," he added.
The team's pre-match practice session today was washed out. Even so, the skipper wasn't too bothered about the playing combination or even how the pitch conditions might have changed in the build-up to the game.
The green square was mowed twice today revealing a flatter deck for the Test than anticipated.
"...it just happened to rain but the day before that we had a good practice. Also in places like Sri Lanka it is very hot and humid. People sometimes end up doing too much at practice and then maybe you don't recover for a game.
"It might just be a good thing for those who needed more rest especially the bowlers who have massive workload during test matches. For us its more of a positive thing than a hindrance that we didn't have practice a day before the game because we are in a good zone," said Kohli.
On the pitch, which he has not yet seen, Kohli said it wasn't much of a concern.
"It's quite a different situation (not looking at pitch a day before the match) but the management has gone to the stadium to have a look. We heard there were some changes to the pitch so they have gone to check how things look at this stage, so we will have more clarity on what we need to go in with," he said.
When asked about the chance to take the series 3-0, the skipper replied, "For us it is about playing another Test match and trying to win another match. We have already won the series but it doesn't mean that we can afford to be complacent.
"I personally feel that it (thinking about 3-0) is just a distraction that causes people to be over-excited and that causes people to look too far ahead what might be the outcome of this particular game."
In the light of Jadeja's suspension, left-arm spinner Axar Patel was added to the Indian squad. However, Kuldeep Yadav is expected to take Jadeja's place in the playing eleven ahead of Patel.
"He (Kuldeep) believes in his own ability and believes in deceiving the batsmen with the skill that he has. I think that's his biggest quality. He has proven himself in Dharamsala, which was not such a spin-friendly wicket and it was quite flat in the first 2-3 days of the Test match," he added.
"A chinaman bowler is always something which is an x-factor in a team and I would say his confidence is his USP. He has a great chance of playing tomorrow and I wish him all the best," he added.
(With PTI Inputs)