Virat Kohli: "Happy we are finally going to start playing"

Team India skipper Virat Kohli hailed South Africa as a ‘very talented and dangerous side’ on the eve of their World Cup 2019 encounter.

Kohli during the South Africa pre-match press conference on Tuesday.   -  REUTERS

There was an air of calmness around Virat Kohli. He walked in confidently, took his time to settle down, wore his spectacles and patiently answered the questions. Ahead of the World Cup clash against South Africa, Kohli struck an optimistic note in the pre-match press-conference at the Hampshire Bowl here on Tuesday.

First-up he said: “We are very happy that finally we are going to start playing.” And then when asked about South Africa being plagued by injuries, he refused to take the opposition lightly:

“South Africa is very talented, a very dangerous side on their day and even with the replacements, they will be a very strong side.”

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Fringe benefits

The Indian captain admitted that his unit’s late start in the World Cup comes with its share of fringe benefits: “It is a bit of an advantage, I have to say, in terms of understanding how the games have gone, what the conditions have to offer, what the overcast conditions bring into play or when the sun is out.

“It’s a totally different ball game altogether (especially) what the conditions are at 10.30 in the morning compared to afternoon. We have had a lot to absorb.”

Kohli lauded his squad’s all-round riches and declared: “We selected a side that gives us all kinds of options depending upon the conditions we are going to play in.

“Somewhere you might see three seamers, somewhere two wrist-spinners, somewhere you might see a wrist-spinner and a finger spinner playing together. That is why we selected the most balanced side.”

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Jadhav is fit

The skipper also revealed that Kedar Jadhav is back to ‘full fitness’ and when a South African scribe probed about Kagiso Rabada’s disparaging remarks against him, Kohli was at his diplomatic best and said he would rather talk straight with the fast bowler.

And would he like to emulate his prolific starts from previous World Cups — Kohli had scored centuries in India’s opening games during the 2011 and 2015 editions? The Indian captain replied:

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“When I walk out to bat, come down the stairs, people will say we need a hundred.

“My focus is, if I am in a position to be able to do that again, but more importantly make the team win, that will be my goal.

“And if it takes a hundred runs, 150, 50, 60, 70, 40, whatever it is, I am ready to do that.”