Virat Kohli named an unchanged playing XI for the first time since taking over as captain — a run of 38 Tests that dates back to the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2014.

India hadn't played the same XI in two successive matches for 45 Tests, seven of them coming under MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane's captaincy.

Former South Africa captain Graeme Smith holds the record for playing most Tests as captain before playing an unchanged XI in successive games — 44.

Kohli is well ahead of former India skipper Sourav Ganguly, who had captained India in 28 Tests before naming an unchanged XI. Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq is fourth on the list with 26 matches.

Following a convincing 203-run win over England at Nottingham in the ongoing five-Test series, the visiting Indian team decided to stick with the same XI for the fourth Test, starting today in Southampton.

There were concerns over R Ashwin's availability as the off-spinner had suffered a strain during the third Test.

Virat Kohli mic drop
Indian captain Virat Kohli.Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Kohli's hint during the press conference

However, on the eve of the fourth Test, Kohli had hinted during his meeting with the press that his premier off-spinner was fit and that he didn't see any reason to tinker with the playing XI.

Ashwin's recovery is a welcome news for the visitors, who are trailing 2-1, as England have seven left-handers in their playing XI.

"We have an unchanged XI. First time in a long time. Rightly so as well. Don't think we need to change looking at the conditions. We have all bases covered. Ashwin is ready to go as well. He was 70% in the last game. Him fit and ready is a boost for us with so many left-handers in their side," Kohli said during the toss, which went England's way, earlier in the day.

Why all the changes?

A number of factors, including injuries and form issues, have contributed to the constant chopping and changing of the team under Kohli.

However, Kohli and the team management had been facing criticism for not arriving on a fixed combination. Former cricketers even opined that the inconsistency in team selection had hurt players' confidence.

Openers Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and pacers Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar had been part of the most changes over the years.

Nonetheless, Kohli hit out at critics before the third Test, saying the team's focus is on winning matches on not saving players' careers.

"I don't think anyone is thinking like that. These are just things that are created on the outside and people like to make a lot [out] of nothing. For us, the priority is to win games. We are not thinking whether someone's career is on the line or what's going to happen to their future," Kohli said.