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An opportunity to gel as a unit: Kohli

- ‘World T20 a platform for youngsters to express themselves’
Virat Kohli and Mohammed Shami, in Mirpur, on Monday

Calcutta: The fact that India have played very few T20 Internationals between the last World T20 and now is a matter of concern. However, India have done well whenever they play as a unit and this World T20 provides the youngsters and inexperienced in the side with a good chance to express themselves, feels Virat Kohli.

“Not playing too many T20 games could be a factor, but whatever matches we’ve played... Against Pakistan in Ahmedabad and against Australia as well, we had two great matches… We had a good game against England, too.

“Though there aren’t many matches, but whenever we played as a unit, we have done pretty well. At present, the competition provides all the younger guys and those comparatively inexperienced a platform to express themselves. That is something they need at the international level to get out of that shell they might find themselves in and to shed that hesitation there in the mind.

“I see it as a wonderful opportunity to gel together as a unit in such a big tournament,” Kohli told the ICC website.

For his part, Kohli has established himself as the leader of the Indian batting order across formats. He has had a huge amount of success with the bat in Bangladesh, apart from getting to lead the team in the Asia Cup in Dhoni’s absence. He banks on making full use of these factors in order to take India to the top in the World T20.

One thing is for sure. If India are to go the distance in the competition and return successful, Kohli has to make more than a sizeable contribution. Of course, India do have the likes of Yuvraj Singh, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina, all of whom are capable enough to change the course of a match single-handedly. But it has been seen in the past that the team tends to struggle if Kohli is not among runs.

“Obviously, I would like to do well and score runs for my team. Every other batsman in the team would want to do the same. I have had a good time in the Asia Cup recently. I like playing in Bangladesh and will try and use those factors to my advantage,” Kohli said.

India are placed in a tough group with Pakistan, Australia and West Indies among their opponents. For the record, India have never lost to Pakistan in the World Cup, be it the 50-over format or T20. But as Kohli says, this record will be the last thing in the minds of the players.

“We never look at the record. We never look at that game as the sole big one. It’s all hype.

“It doesn’t matter which opposition we are playing against. The preparation is the same, along with the mindset.

“The objective will be to go out there, score runs, field well and take wickets. We are going to go out there and play some good cricket and not get too desperate thinking about outside factors such as records.

“As long as we continue to focus on our strength and play good cricket on the day, we are good enough to beat any side in the world,” he made it clear.

India begin their World T20 campaign against Pakistan on March 21, at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium, in Mirpur. It was in Mirpur itself when the two sides met last in this year’s Asia Cup. Pakistan had squeezed out a one-wicket win in that game.

With due respect to Kohli’s opinion, India’s prospects in this World T20 depends to a good extent on the result of their opener, against Pakistan.