The biggest test of Virat Kohli’s skill and cricketing acumen is on its way as Team India gets ready to jet off to England for sport’s biggest price – ICC World Cup 2019. India will start their campaign as favourites to win the trophy owing to their form in the white-ball format. Kohli will be leading India in his first 50-over World Cup as captain with former skipper MS Dhoni’s expertise at his disposal. In a highly-anticipated press conference, Kohli skipper Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri spoke with the media ahead of Indian cricket team’s departure to England for the quadrennial event. Making his third appearance in the mega-showdown, Kohli terms this World Cup as the most challenging one he’s been part of, keeping the format in mind.
Handling pressure will be the most important thing in the titanic event and not necessarily the conditions. Kohli also backed his bowlers to step up on the pedal when it mattered the most. Speaking on the importance of maintaining intensity throughout the over-a-month-long competition, the 30-year-old said: “We will seek inspiration from the big football teams to maintain intensity throughout the tournament. Big clubs turn up the heat and maintain their consistency for three-four months in top leagues like – Premier League and La Liga”.
On improvising and English conditions coming into play: “Our mantra is to be flexible in the last 10 overs, pitches are going to be flat but overcast conditions will also have to be taken into consideration. It will also depend on venue to venue, so you have to be prepared for that and be flexible,” coach Shastri said.
Speaking about playing in the round-robin format, the world number one ODI batsman added, “Certainly most challenging World Cup considering the format of the tournament, also if you look at all the teams, they are really close. Even someone like Afghanistan have made so much progress in 2015. Every game will have to play best to our potential, it’s a different challenge which everyone will have to adapt to”.
Importance of Dhoni —
“MS Dhoni will play a massive role. When it comes to little moments that can change the game, he will be valuable. It was good to see MS Dhoni moving well in the IPL. He has a massive role. There is no one better than him in this format especially in those little moments which can change the game. He will be a big player in this World Cup,” added the 1983 WC winning team member Shastri.
Kohli also quashed any rumours about having any complacency in the showpiece event. He said, “There is a decent gap between games. So I don’t think the players will be burnt out. Playing tough games upfront is good as we will be up for it from the start. We will be at our 100% intensity from the minute we step onto the field. There is no room for complacency, we have to be at our best every day”.
Earlier Kedar Jadhav’s shoulder injury has been a cause of concern. The part-time bowler and middle-order batsman, Jadhav was declared fit on Monday. The 34-year-old injured his shoulder while fielding during a match between Chennai and Punjab during Indian Premier League (IPL) 2019.
India will take on New Zealand and Bangladesh in warm-up games on May 25 and May 28 respectively. The semi-finalists of World Cup 2015 start off their campaign against South Africa on June 5 at The Rose Bowl, Southampton.
India’s World Cup 2019 Squad: Virat Kohli (C), Rohit Sharma (vc), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.