Virat Kohli’s India wrapped up a comprehensive come-from-behind 2-1 series win over Australia at home, which promises to give them a lot of confidence before the team leaves for New Zealand shortly. India begin their long tour of New Zealand with a five-match T20I series starting Friday and it will mark the first instance when the two sides come face to face since their World Cup semifinal clash last year.
India had a successful ODI series in New Zealand last year, winning it 3-2, but were beaten 1-2 in T20Is. However, Kohli is taking all the positives India had to display last year hoping to convert their recent ODI form in T20Is on New Zealand’s soil.
“We are taking a lot of confidence from our performance (in NZ) last year. We were very positive in how we played, very sure of what we wanted to do. The thing about playing away is if you’re able to put the home team under pressure, you can enjoy your cricket,” Kohli said after India’s seven-wicket win over Australia on Sunday.
“You have to win at home, there’s that sort of feeling (for hosts). So if you bring out your A game, you can really put them under pressure. That’s what we did last year, squeezed them in the middle overs, picked up wickets, spinners were outstanding. Looking forward to take that same intensity into the series.”
This will be Kohli’s third tour of New Zealand with the senior cricket team. Last year, he was rested for the last two ODIs – after India secured the series in the first three matches – and the T20Is. The five T20Is will be followed by three ODIs and a two-Test series and Kohli pointed put the importance of showing improvements in the areas that demand it.
“Again, we want to bat well when we bat first and in case we’re defending a low total, we should be able to do that as well. We can’t afford to ease into the series after two games, because then it keeps getting tougher and tougher, so we’ll look to make a mark in the first game that we play,” he said.
As far as the Australia ODIs are concerned, Kohli relished the win more because this was an Australian side comprising David Warner, Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne. He explained how India became slightly complacent last year against them, which in the long run, cost them the series from being 2-0 up.
“Last year (at home) after 2-0 up, we thought we’re definitely going to win one of the three at home, but they showed us that they understand these conditions very well now (to win 3-2), having played here a lot in the IPL and so many tours over the years,” Kohli said.
“So, although they had a stronger side (with Steve Smith and David Warner back) than last time, we thought if we play good enough, we can beat this team. The only thing we needed to be wary of was our body language and intent because that’s Australia’s strongest point.
“All the teams in the world are skilled but these guys play with the intent of making things happen every over you play against them. So you can’t take your foot off the pedal at all, that’s what we’ve done in the last two games. The partnerships that I mentioned today, even the singles were taken with intent.”
Kohli emphasised on how the Indian team over the years have planned keeping in mind external factors. This series, the Indian captain did win a single toss but India bounced back from the drubbing in Mumbai to win the next two in Rajkot and Bengaluru. Kohli revealed the process of taking toss out of the equation began back after India’s World Cup loss in July.
“We spoke after the World Cup the way we exited, you can’t always look for a situation that should go your way at the toss. If we like chasing as a team, it doesn’t mean we press the panic button if we lose the toss, we’ve to stay composed enough to put in strong performances.
“We’ve literally taken the toss out of context, and we’re as prepared as possible to do something the opposition asks us to do,” he said.
“That’s been the difference, even if we lose the toss, we have the belief that we can play expressive cricket to get results our way. The last six or eight months have been a revelation and the younger guys stepping up is a very good sign for Indian cricket.”