Virat Kohli made it clear once again that the Indian cricket team will not approach the upcoming Test series against Sri Lanka in a different manner just because they had whitewashed the visitors at their home earlier this year. The Indian captain stressed on the fact that they want to maintain their consistency as a team and will take on Sri Lanka like they would have done against any other team.
“Every match you play is important and every series is huge. It’s not like we lose this series and you guys are not going to say nothing to us. So, everything is important when you play for the country and we don’t like to differentiate. We simply want to do well as a team,” Kohli said on the eve of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Eden Gardens.
“Whatever the conditions we play at, whatever combinations we need to play, we do that accordingly. Keeping in mind that winning is the most important thing and for that everyone is on the same page whether we play in India or away.
“Regardless of the opposition we play and we want to maintain our consistency as a team and that has worked for us because we do not differentiate in terms of where we are playing, how we are playing, what team we are playing against. We just want to play good cricket as a team,” he added.
India have not lost a Test series at home since the 2012 series loss to England and are expected to win this series as well but Kohli says that results take care of themselves.
“The results take care of themselves anywhere in the world. It’s not like in India you can get away by playing bad cricket. The eventual goal is to respect the sport and skill set we have and try to execute that in every situation and every condition we are in,” he said.
India are coming into this series after two limited-overs series against Australia and New Zealand and will have to get back in the Test cricket mode which Kohli believes is challenging but something which his team likes.
“Another series for us. We have played so much cricket now it’s all about good preparations, keeping our energy levels up and making sure that we have quality practice. Not necessarily go for quantity because that can also lead to bad habits when you know that you are playing well and in a good zone and when you over practice, that can also lead to the mindset going off.
“We have to maintain the balance. I think we have done really well so far in maintaining that balance. We have to get back into the Test mode and create momentum from this game, carry it on in this series and take it forward because we are playing Test cricket straight after as well. It always feels nice to come back into the Test cricket because the challenges are different and something we always look forward to,” he said.
Hardik Pandya has been rested for the series after he requested for rest and even Kohli has asked for a break. The Indian captain elaborated on the subject that this is one subject which hasn’t been explained well.
“This is one thing which I don’t think people explain properly. There is a lot of talk from the outside in terms of workload — whether a player should be rested or should not be rested. All cricketers play 40 games in a year. Three guys who should get rest, their workloads are to be managed. 11 players play the game but not everyone would have batted 45 overs in an ODI game or not everyone would have bowled 30 overs in a Test match,” Kohli said.
“But the ones who are doing it regularly need to be assessed because the body takes that much time to recover. People only look at ‘oh everyone has played 40 games’. They don’t look at time spent on the crease.
“The number of runs that have been run between the wicket, the number of overs bowled in difficult conditions, what were the conditions, what were the temperatures like, have the bodies recovered or not — I don’t think people go into that analysis. So from the outside, it looks like ‘why are people asking for rest, everyone has played the same number of games’.
“But not everyone has the same kind of workload in every game. Only those who have a major workload, for example, Pujara during a Test season he will have maximum workload because he spends so much time at the crease. His game is built that way. So you can’t compare that to a counter-attacking batsman because the workload would have been lesser.
“So I think all these things have to be taken into consideration. Purely because of the fact that we have built such a strong core team now of 20-25 players, you don’t want important players breaking down at important times for the team,” Kohli elaborated.
Sri Lanka last visited India for a Test series back in 2009 but this time both teams are playing each other for the second time this year. Kohli admitted that cricket needs to engage fans and remain competitive.
“I don’t know that. This analysis has to be done by fans who watch the game because someone watching the game is very different from being involved in the game. For us, there is no rule of complacency or saying that I don’t want to play this game. There is no room for that. We are at our top intensity all the time. This question will be better answered by the fans who watch the game. If there is too much cricket being played or there is a repetition of same series happening or not, for us, as I said, playing cricket for the country and we do what we are presented with. This definitely needs to be taken into consideration because you don’t want the fans going away from the game. We have to maintain a balance of how to engage fans and at the same time how to keep players fresh and keep cricket exciting and competitive cricket going throughout the year,” he said.