Four years ago, Virat Kohli was part of the Indian team that beat England in Edgbaston and lifted the 2013 Champions Trophy. As a player, he saw seniors and juniors led by MS Dhoni lift the trophy for the first time. In a week’s time, he will be leading a ‘fitter, more mature’ squad as India look to defend their title in the same country.
Addressing a press conference before the start of the Champions Trophy in England, Kohli said that this squad is a balanced one and has the mentality to defend the title.
“This year the team is a lot fitter, the cricketers are a lot more mature because that was a very young group four years ago,” Kohli said. “It has gained a lot of experience in the last three or four years… We are in a good head-space going into this tournament.”
The tournament starts on June 1 but India will begin their defence on June 4 when they take on Pakistan in Birmingham. South Africa and Sri Lanka are the other two sides in Group B.
“I love the tournament because it represents a challenge from the (word) go. In the ICC Cricket World Cup you have a league and a lot of games to play but here it is group games and then either the semis or you are out,” Kohli said.
Kohli also said that a lot of pressure will be eased on MS Dhoni due a more strong lower middle-order. He thought that Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya have done a wonderful job in easing the pressure on Dhoni.
“We needed to strengthen our lower middle order contribution,” he said. “I felt too much burden was coming on MS Dhoni in the past couple of years. He wasn’t able to express himself purely because of the fact that there are not enough guys showing composure to finish off the game with him. But now we are a balanced side,” he said.
“It’s about execution now. You might have the best side in the world but if you do not execute there is no point having that skill. In a tournament like this it all boils down to how you execute on the day.”