World Cup most challenging due to format: Virat Kohli

We are focusing on maintaining our quality of cricket and our intensity against all opponents, the Indian skipper said

By Our Bureau in Calcutta
  • Published 22.05.19, 3:36 AM
  • Updated 22.05.19, 3:36 AM
  • 4 mins read
  •  
Team India captain Virat Kohli during a press conference in Mumbai on Tuesday, before the team’s departure for London. (PTI)

The round-robin format has made the upcoming World Cup the “most challenging” for India captain Virat Kohli, who says maintaining intensity from the very first ball would be key to his side’s fortunes in the showpiece event that starts May 30.

Also, if everyone in the side plays keeping the armed forces in mind, the side will certainly get an extra boost from it, Kohli said during the pre-departure media conference in Mumbai on Tuesday.

Excerpts

On the expectations

Only expectation we have is to play really good cricket. That’s where our focus has been and that is why the results have followed in the last two-three years. We go into the World Cup feeling very balanced, very strong as a side. We saw in the IPL as well that all the players that are in the squad were in great form. So, we expect ourselves to play the best cricket we can in every game... Have to focus on the process as well also to be able to do that... That’s the expectation everyone has from us.

On going to England early & bowlers’ fitness

Of course, it’s always good to go to any place in advance. It does help get rid of nerves as a team going into a tournament like the World Cup. That’s the most important thing I guess. In white-ball cricket in England, playing an ICC event, the conditions are not that difficult compared to Test cricket. Handling the most pressure is the most important thing in World Cup and not necessarily the conditions. From that point of view, it will be very helpful. All the bowlers in the squad, even in the IPL, were preparing themselves for 50-over cricket. You saw all the guys bowling, no one looked tired or fatigued after bowling four overs. They were very fresh. The ultimate goal at the back of their mind was always to be fit for the World Cup and not let the fitness go down. And that was communicated to them before the IPL started.

On players like Kuldeep Yadav & Kedar Jadhav who didn’t have a good IPL

In hindsight, for someone like Kuldeep who has had so much success, it’s important to see a period where things don’t go your way and we are glad that it happened during the IPL, rather than during the World Cup. He has time to reflect, time to correct things and come into the World Cup even stronger. We know the kind of skill set he possesses, along with (Yuzvendra) Chahal. They are really two pillars of our bowling attack.

As for Kedar, we understand the kind of pitches they (Chennai Super Kings) got playing at home. We were not too worried looking at Kedar because he appeared to be in good space. Yes, he couldn’t get runs, as T20 is such a format where if you don’t get a few, you can go on like that for a few more days. So, we are not worried about anyone’s headspace. Everyone looked confident and enjoying their cricket. A team that does well in the World Cup is a team that can handle pressure well and secondly, try and stay as normal as possible. Looking at the magnitude of those games, the team that stays more focused and more balanced can go on to win the tournament.

On expecting high-scoring games

As I said, the pitches are going to be very good in ICC tournaments. It is summer in the UK and the conditions are going to be nice. We expect high-scoring games, but a bilateral series can’t be compared to a Word Cup. So, we might also see 260-270 kind of games and even teams defending it because of the pressure factor. We expect all kinds of scenarios in the World Cup, but there will be quite a few high-scoring games looking at the conditions.

On the team strategy

Personally, it is probably the most challenging World Cup of all the three that I have been a part of because of the format and looking at the strength of the all the sides as well. If you look at Afghanistan from 2015 to now, they are a completely different side. Any team can upset anyone on their day. That is one thing we have in mind. As I said, focus will be on to play the best cricket that we can. If we live up to our skill sets and our standards that we’ve set for ourselves, we’ll be on the right side of the result more often. So, that is going to be key. In every game, you have to play to the best of your potential because there’s group stage, as it’s about playing everyone once. And I think it’s a great thing to have for any team. It’s going to be a different challenge and something that every team will have to adapt very quickly to.

On the challenges

It’s going to be challenging… Good thing is all games are going to have a decent gap between each other. From that point of view, I don’t think players will suffer burnouts after a hectic or intense game. You will always have time to regroup and work for the next one. The best thing is that we’ll have four tough games straight up and that sets the tone nicely for us. Everyone will have to be at his best and maintain game intensity from the first match onwards.

On the game versus Pakistan

You can’t get too emotional… You have to play the World Cup taking into account your own abilities... Can’t think of how to tackle one team in particular... There are other strong teams too. We are focusing on maintaining our quality of cricket and our intensity against all opponents. It makes no difference to us as to who the opponent is.

On if the team would play keeping the armed forces in mind

You get motivation from a lot of sources, but the point mentioned here is a very big one. I don’t think there can be a bigger motivation than that. When you talk about the Indian Army and the role they play for the country, there is no comparison with that. If we go in with that motivation that we can do something for the Army, you will see a different level of passion coming out of us. But that also depends on a lot of other factors. Every individual has a different motivation while playing in the World Cup. I think if everyone plays keeping the armed forces in mind, then we will get an extra boost from it.