On India vs Pakistan contest: Nothing different to be honest. I know it sounds pretty boring but this is exactly what we feel as cricketers, and not saying anything different to what we feel. For us it’s a matter of executing what we know best regardless of who we are playing against. I’m sure every team thinks like that. I;m sure all the other teams don’t put more price on one game than the other, especially in a tournament like this where you don’t have one tough game, you have all tough games. In a tournament like this you can’t pick and chose, and in general cricketers don’t pick and chose. We prepare the same way and take the same mindset in every game we play for India. You need to be 100% motivated to be playing for the country regardless of who you are playing against. The mindset does not change.
On fast bowling and team composition: I think that’s been on my mind in the last five-six days. The most out of anything else…who to play. In both the games, all the guys have bowled beautifully and the attack looks really balanced. Hardik Pandya coming into the equation as all-rounder means you can only play four bowlers apart from him. So who to choose according to the conditions. We have just arrived and I haven’t even got a chance to look at the pitch. There are all kinds of possibilities – two spinners and two seamers, three seamers and one spinner. We will see what the wicket is like and what we feel will match-up well against the opposition. Accordingly we will pick our best bowling attack but as you mentioned all are bowling well, team looks balanced, we are confident as a team. That’s showing in the way we are playing even in the warm-up game because the intensity was right up there. That was something really nice to see for me as a captain. It’s a good headache to have but everyone is fit and ready to go.
On handling captaincy, match-winner tag and controversies: You have to handle stuff when you are thinking about it. When I choose not to think about something, I don’t have to handle it. I carry on with my normal life. On the field I am captain but off the field, when I have my own time, I choose to get away from things and relax as any normal human beings do. It’s very important to switch on and off at important times. Talking about wanting to win games for the country, I have had that mindset since beginning. So it has changed anything because I am captain. I never played irresponsibly even when I wasn’t captain. So there is nothing extra I needed to do and that mindset remains. If I am in a position to take the team through, I would any day love to do that.
Whether I am captain or I am not captain. So it doesn’t make me feel that I have to do something extra to get something going as a captain. My batting has always been similar and it’s just that captaincy gives you much more responsibility in the field. And handling your players on and off the field is something that captaincy requires. It’s a big skill to have. That’s something I am focussing on more rather than putting myself under pressure and just trying to make sure that all the guys are in good mindset and are feeling confident about their skills. Apart from that, I don’t look at these kind of situations like something that ‘I have to do well in these games or you know it’s going to be really bad’. I don’t think like that. For me, every game of cricket is as important. I play with equal commitment in any game I play. Whether it’s an ICC tournament or a normal game, my mindset doesn’t change.
On Pakistan and their unfamiliarity: As a team I think they can surprise you because you don’t play against them so much. You are not too aware of how they react in different situations. All you can do in that situation is focus on your skill which anyways you should do as a team. As individuals, some people like to watch videos and go through bowlers and batsmen and all that, some people don’t. I personally don’t. If a cricket ball is being bowled, you should be good enough to handle it. Whether it’s bowled by someone you play regularly or you don’t. You rather take that up as a bigger challenge. You have to come up against the kind of bowling you don’t play often. You have to test yourself against that kind of attack and say ‘I’m going to come out on top and prove to myself how good I can be’ when surprises like these come. They have always been the team which can surprise any team on the day they play well. So you can’t ever take them lightly. Not being familiar with the way they bowl or bat is not going to be a massive factor for us because we like to focus on what we can do. If you play good cricket, it works against any side.
On having MS Dhoni’s inputs: It’s priceless to have his thoughts and views on different situations and things that he picks up are really minor but make a massive difference. Identifying who is in a better mindset to do a certain job is something that he has always been a master at and I keep seeking his advice every now and then to make sure what I’m thinking is on the right path. Obviously you won’t agree to everything but more often than not we end up agreeing to same thing because we are thinking in the same manner which is to make the team win, regardless of what we plan.