Virat Kohli, ahead of the team departure to England, addressed the media in Mumbai and spoke about the tournament, team’s chances and what they need to do. The skipper emphasised on the opening partnership, something which was “one of the strongest factors last time.” Here’s his take on various questions asked at the presser.
On whether IPL helps for Champions Trophy preparations
I don’t think you can have similiarties in both formats. From getting game time, it helps lot of people get in the zone of match ready. It’s different for different people. Some people can’t connect the two formats at all, some people take bits and pieces and put into place in all three formats. As I said, just being match fit and having the rhythm of bowling, the flow of batting and just the mental side of scoring runs and being in tough conditions is something that you can carry forward to in all formats. IPL being a highly competitive tournament allows you that. IPL could be the most competitive games you could be part of before Champions Trophy.
On the challenge of defending the title
First challenge is not to think that we are defending the title. When we went there the last time, we just wanted to enjoy ourselves as a unit and then ended up winning the tournament and creating a team which has done so well so far. There have been few changes made from that team as well. So right now I think, again, our mindset is very similar to go out there and enjoy. In Test cricket we have been able to reach the top with that mindset, having the hunger to win. We want to take it into across formats and ruthlessness is something we speak about all the time. Even if we close series of we want to win it without losing the game or maybe drawing the game. We go in with that kind of mindset and it goes in a long way in a tournament like this. We think about the games in that manner, and gets the result more often than not.
On the tournament, and its competitiveness
I think because the tournament is much shorter and you have top eight teams in the world, I think the competitiveness is much higher from the word go. In World Cup you can still have league games and then dominate in the later half but in Champions Trophy, you need to be on top of the game from game 1. If you are not, then your chances go down pretty soon. I think that’s the biggest challenge in Champions Trophy and something that all the players love playing for sure. It’s so competitive and all the fans love watching it. It’s going to get a lot of eye-balls.
On Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni
They are the kind of players who are very experienced and know how to build a match, and win a match. What was good to see in the last series was that they both were playing freely and enjoying. Team confidence improves when two big players start playing with freedom. Even the top-order then plays more freely and overall it has been good for the team. Even the environment in the dressing room got a boost with their presence. If players like these two are in a good mindset, team’s outlook changes. They are the strongest two pillars of the team. Better their mindset, better it will be for the team
On takeaways from Champions Trophy 2013
The last Champions Trophy, two takeaways, which I think, were the takeaways were the opening partnership. Revelation of Rohit and Shikhar as an opening pair was very great thing to see for all Indian fans. That was a massive factor in us winning the trophy. Ash and Jadeja were on top of their game anyway. The way fast bowlers bowled and the way we fielded. We were the best fielding side in the tournament then. These three things we identified back then and would like to stick to the same strengths. These three factors determine how you play in English conditions, and how far you can go in a tournament like this.
Redemption on his mind?
You improve as a cricketer in every series you play, and at times, not in our head, the atmosphere is a built in a way that it becomes life or death kind of series. Especially for sub-continent cricketers. Something which I don’t understand why. If players come to India and don’t do well it’s fine, but if we go there and don’t do well there is a knife hanging on our neck. I don’t believe in those things, I would never play for redemption. My only motivation is to keep winning games for my country. No matter what the conditions are, aim is to win games and I’m willing to everything in my abilities to do the same.
On learning from the IPL
After the season we had, a tournament like this teaches you a lot about yourself as a person at a few levels. From the mindset point of view, it may be realised that you can’t possibly do everything. Some times people start looking at you like that but as a human being you need to understand your limitations as well. You need to take a backward step. It was so bizzare that everything which we were trying was going against us. All fifteen in the squad were with the same mindset…it was bizzarree. May be it was to teach me that you know you need to balance things out and take a backward step in how much you can do on the field. In how much intensity you can play with. As I keep getting older, may be these things are a learning as well. You don;t want to burn out too quickly as well. Those were the learnings for me, I was pretty fortunate to experience that kind of a time and it teaches you a lot as a captain and composure wise. You take away a lot from failures. That’s something I have always cherished.
Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami
May 26: India vs Bangladesh, warm-up
May 28: India vs New Zealand, warm-up
June 4: India v Pakistan, Birmingham, 3:00 PM IST (Group B)
June 8: India v Sri Lanka, London, 3:00 PM IST (Group B)
June 11: India v South Africa, London, 3:00 PM IST (Group B)