India captain Virat Kohli has said he will play the fourth and deciding Test against Australia in Dharamsala only if 100% fit. Kohli, who suffered a shoulder injury during the third Test in Ranchi, said he would undergo another fitness test and take a call either on Friday night or on Saturday morning, the first day of the Test.
On Thursday, India had called up Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer to the squad as cover for Kohli. Iyer arrived at the ground on Friday morning, during India's warm-ups, and batted in the nets too. Kohli - as on Thursday - did not bat in the nets, restricting himself to facing a few throwdowns.
"It's very different from competition, that's one thing," Kohli said, when asked how his shoulder had felt while batting. "Something that I experienced in Ranchi, when you have reactive movements, the magnitude of your injury comes out.
"Physio wants to give it a bit more time till I can test myself, and probably we will take a call later tonight or tomorrow before the game. We will have to give it that much time more to make a call with the physiotherapist."
Kohli said the injury hampered his normal range of movement, and that he ran the risk of aggravating it while fielding, though not while batting.
"I wouldn't say it is a normal feeling [in the shoulder]," he said. "It is obviously different from how you play at 100% fitness. As a batsman, you want to prepare a certain way. As a fielder, you want to contribute a certain way.
"Certainly, at this stage, the injury has an element of being aggravated in the field. While batting, there is no problem whatsoever of it getting aggravated. I have taken medication after the last game, so I am just hoping that it takes me [only] a bit more time to get back to the normal movements that I have. As I said, I have to give it a few more hours and take that call."
As captain, Kohli said it would be difficult for him to miss the match, but he could do nothing but wait and hope.
"Of course you want to push yourself to be fit. But at times, you have to understand where your body stands as well," he said. "It's not an injury caused because of lack of fitness. It's an impact injury and all those things need to be kept in mind. But as a player, as a captain obviously, you want to push yourself to take the field, if you can help the team's cause."
With the series 1-1 going into the final Test, Dharamsala shapes up to be one of India's most important matches in recent times, and a difficult one for India to negotiate without their captain. Kohli, however, said they had the resources to cope if he couldn't play.
"Every match is crucial for me. It's no different, it's a game of cricket," he said. "It can be made out to be a certain way, saying it's the most crucial game of my career or captaincy career, but I won't put it that way. I don't see any other game or any other opposition differently.
"Everyone's really proud and motivated to play for the country, and me playing or not playing shouldn't make so much of a difference to the other ten guys because they have a responsibility to fulfil as well.
"I've not done anything special so far [in the series], but still the guys have fought it out and that shows why we are the number one team in the world. We have quality players who want to step up given these kinds of opportunities and you know, if that scenario happens, I'm sure everyone's looking at it as probably the game-changing game of their lives. It's how you look at a particular situation. So everyone's looking very optimistic for tomorrow's game regardless."
Conditions in Dharamsala, given its altitude and weather, are expected to favour the quicker bowlers more than they have done at any of the other three venues during this series. Kohli expected the pitch to bring all facets of the game into play.
"I think it is a very good cricket wicket," he said. "It has always been very good for the batsmen to get in and get value for their shots. And the bowlers as well, there is good bounce for the spinners, there is obviously good pace off the wicket for the quicks as well. If you do any discipline well, you can reap rewards on this kind of wicket. And the ball travels in the air also.
"I think it's an opportunity for bat and ball both to dominate in different situations in the game. It will certainly test the players to the fullest, but as I said it is a very good cricketing wicket and good cricket should be on display on this wicket."
The series is level 1-1 after Australia won the first Test in Pune, India the second in Bangalore, and the third was drawn in Ranchi.