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Virat Kohli hails India star Rishabh Pant and congratulates England’s Joe Root

India captain Virat Kohli says England’s Joe Root deserves credit for playing 100 Tests (Picture: BCCI)

Virat Kohli has confirmed ‘match-winner’ Rishabh Pant will retain his place in the India team for the first Test against England and congratulated his counterpart Joe Root for reaching a significant milestone.

England face India in a four-Test series starting on Friday and captain Root will make his 100th appearance in the opening match in Chennai.

Kohli and Root are regarded as two of the ‘big four’ in Test cricket alongside Australia star Steve Smith and New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, and Kohli is wary of the Englishman’s threat.

Root failed to score a Test century during 2020 but returned to form in England’s 2-0 series win in Sri Lanka last month, scoring more than 400 runs in four innings.

‘A big congratulations to Joe, playing 100 Tests is no small achievement and he can be very proud of this journey,’ Kohli said.

‘I have good memories of watching Joe come on to the international scene and he probably got off to a headstart compared to the other three in that group of four. He’s someone who has really become that face of England’s batting over the years.

‘The talk of ‘big four’ is all created by the media, but as an international cricketer you understand impact players when you see them and Joe has been one of them for a while now.

Root returned to form in sensational style against Sri Lanka (Picture: Getty)

‘As opposition you always try and disrupt the opposition batting plans and, when we play England, Joe is always that vital wicket that we look to get early on in the innings.

‘That is a compliment to his game, to the longevity and consistency over so many years. Hopefully in the future we can sit down and have a nice long chat about how our journeys have gone and playing each other over so many years.’

Kohli also confirmed Pant would keep the gloves for the series opener against England, having starred in India’s remarkable victory in Australia.

Pant was left out of the first Australia Test but scored 97 to help India draw the third match and then 89* in the series decider to help the tourists retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

Rishabh Pant will keep for India in the series opener against England (Picture: Getty)

Kohli added: ‘Rishabh will start tomorrow and take the gloves. He had a massive impact in Australia and is in a good headspace and we him to build on this.

‘He’s come along nicely after the Indian Premier League and he’s worked hard in his fitness and his game. We were very happy to see him flourish.

‘He’s someone who we have backed quite a lot and for good reason. His batting brings a lot of value to this team.

‘He can definitely be a very consistent match-winner for India and someone that the opposition will definitely be wary of every time they play against India.’

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