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ICC Cricket World Cup 2019: Can’t get over-excited, says Virat Kohli

We need to be mentally ready to do whatever needs to be done, says India captain

By Our Correspondent in Manchester
  • Published 16.06.19, 2:38 AM
  • Updated 16.06.19, 2:38 AM
  • 3 mins read
Virat Kohli reacts to a teammate during a training session ahead of their ICC Cricket World Cup match against Pakistan at Old Trafford in Manchester, England, on June 15, 2019. (AP)

Virat Kohli isn’t willing to get involved in the frenzy surrounding Sunday’s India-Pakistan clash. He’s focused on the bigger goal, and winning the World Cup matters most to him.

“The game starts at a certain time and finishes at a certain time. So, this is not going to last a lifetime, if you do well or even if you don’t,” Kohli said at the pre-match media conference on Saturday.

“Whether we do well tomorrow or not, it’s not going to finish. The tournament still has to go on and focus has to be on the larger picture. No one person takes more pressure than the others.

“Eleven guys share the responsibility. The weather is not in anyone’s hands. We have to see whatever amount of game we get. We need to be mentally ready to do whatever needs to be done,” he said.

The skipper didn’t wish to get drawn into the headline-grabbing Virat vs (Mohammed) Aamir battle.

“I will not say anything for creating TRPs and neither would I say something that creates an exciting news point. Any bowler I face, I only see the red or white ball.

“Yes, I respect a bowler’s skills... I had said the same about Kagiso Rabada too,” Kohli said.

“Whoever are impact bowlers in world cricket, you should be wary about their strengths… At the same time, you should have that self-belief that you can score runs against any bowler.

“The result of the match will not be decided on mine or his (Aamir’s) performance alone.”

The Team India captain added he doesn’t wish to prove anything to anyone. “I don’t have to go out there and prove to the world that I have to win some kind of contest.

“I have never entertained these things till date and won’t do it in the near future. You can even get out to a part-time bowler. I keep things that simple and basic.”

His 183 against Pakistan in Mirpur still remains the talking point, but the India captain was quick to point out the contribution from others as well.

“If you talk about Mirpur, even Rohit (Sharma) batted very well and we had a lengthy stand. MS (Dhoni) and (Suresh) Raina then finished the game… At the start, Sachin (Tendulkar) paaji played a great knock. It wasn’t as if I scored 330 out of 340 required.

“It’s good to create an external hype, but inside the dressing room we know how to recognise each and every contribution.

“I can’t tell fans to think in a particular manner. We have a professional approach to the game, as we can’t get too emotional or over-excited. So, mindset of the players will be different from that of the fans.

“Our attention span has to be very precise on the field. We have that split second to make a decision, but from fans’ point of view, I would say that it’s not easy to think like a player.”

Virat also spoke about his most tense moment in India-Pakistan matches.

“It was the Champions Trophy 2009, where Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) fractured a finger, and I was literally flown in… In two days time I was playing against Pakistan at the Centurion.

“I hadn’t experienced anything like that before, and I played a very bad shot and I couldn’t sleep until 6 in the morning… I was looking at the ceiling and thinking, ‘That’s it, I’ve blown it and now I’m finished.’ So, that was the most tensed moment I’ve experienced.”

“But there have also been many funny moments over the years. I remember an incident during the 2011 World Cup in Mohali.

“It was involving Shahid Afridi and Wahab Riaz. I was at the non-striker's end and heard a conversation that I can’t elaborate on... It was a high-pressure game and it made me laugh, so that sticks out.”

Asked how tough it is for India to prepare and plan for an unpredictable side like Pakistan, Kohli replied: "Well, we know that they have a lot of talent in their team, but we also know that if we play well, then we play really well as a team.

"We saw that in the first two games that we played. They were very clinical performances and we just focused on exactly what we need to do.

"We're not focusing too much on what the opponents have to do or what they will bring to the table. We need to believe in our strengths.”

Kohli also spoke about the need for flexibility for Sunday’s showdown.

“Look, we have to be flexible. We can't be rigid in our approach because, if the conditions are very different from what we played in the last game, then we'll have to think of different combinations, you know, like which areas to strengthen when it comes to the bowling attack.

“If pace becomes a more important option, then we’ll look to explore that.

“If not, and if the length of the game is going to be full and we expect the game to be 50 overs (for) both sides, then we'll probably think of another combination. But we’ll have to be flexible.

“We’ll have to see how it pans out, the conditions... I think all players are in a zone to be ready to play, so that helps in selecting the combination that you need to, depending on what conditions you're going to face.”