India to be ‘ruthless’ at Champions Trophy, says Virat Kohli

As the team embarks on a mission to defend the title in England, the Indian captain reminded his team-mates to be ruthless yet enjoy the game.

Virat Kohli... “Ruthlessness is something we definitely speak about all the time.”   -  PTI

India does not seem to be good at defending titles. Having won a global ICC tournament five times - including the 2002 Champions Trophy which was shared with Sri Lanka - it has failed to retain titles on all four occasions previously. As the team embarks on a mission to defend the Champions Trophy title, Virat Kohli reminded his team-mates to be ruthless yet enjoy the game.

“I think the first challenge is not to think about the fact that we are defending the title. When we went there the last time, we just wanted to enjoy ourselves as a young unit. We ended up winning the tournament and ended up creating a team which has done so well so far. From that team as well, there have been a few changes,” Kohli said during the a media interaction before the team's departure for United Kingdom for the tournament, which begins on June 1.

“Ruthlessness is something we definitely speak about all the time. Even if we close a series off, we want to win it without losing a game or drawing a game as well, if possible. We go in with that mindset and that goes a long way in a tournament like this. If we can think about our games in that manner, we get the results more often than not.”

More competitive than the World Cup

When India emerged victorious in England in 2013, the fate of Champions Trophy was still unclear, with an ICC Test Championship being explored in place of the eight-team One-Day International (ODI) event. Four years hence, the Champions Trophy has managed to retain its place on the calendar. The cricket administrators may not be convinced about the importance of the tournament, but according to Kohli, the players rate it as highly as the World Cup.

“Because the tournament is much shorter and you have the top eight teams in the world, the competitiveness of the tournament is much higher from the word go. In the World Cup, you can still have the league games and you have yourselves to get into the World Cup and them dominate in the latter half,” Kohli said. “But in Champions Trophy, you have to be on the top of your game from game one. If you are not, your chances go down pretty soon. That’s the biggest challenge in Champions Trophy and something that all the players love playing, for sure.”

India-Pak ‘like any other game’

After facing New Zealand and Bangladesh in the warm-up matches, India will open its title defence with a face-off against arch-rival Pakistan in Birmingham on June 4. Despite the volatile political and security situation between both the countries, Kohli said the team will treat the occasion just like another game.

“Yes, an [India-Pakistan] game is always exciting. For people watching in the stadium, the game is different. If you ask players from both sides, it is like any other game,” he said. “We prepare for it like it’s any other game. The atmosphere around the ground is different. But in our heads, playing against any other team, be it England [or] Australia [or] South Africa, it is all the same. There is no need to talk about anything different. There is no need to talk to anyone.”

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