India focusing on proper all-rounders, says Virat Kohli

As skipper Virat Kohli addressed the media on the eve of the series opener, he looked confident. From promoting Ajinkya Rahane up the order to his personal target-the skipper spoke on a range of issues. As usual, he kept the answers prim and proper.

Kohli: "Winning the game more important than personal landmarks".   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

Fresh from a thumping victory against Sri Lanka, India would be hoping to maintain its winning momentum when the first ODI gets underway at the M.A. Chidambaram stadium here on Sunday.

As skipper Virat Kohli addressed the media on the eve of the series opener, he looked confident. From promoting Ajinkya Rahane up the order to his personal target-the skipper spoke on a range of issues. As usual, he kept the answers prim and proper.

Excerpts…

On whether there will be a different outlook against a stronger opponent Australia?

No, I don’t think we need to look at any series differently. As I mentioned in Sri Lanka as well, your preparation should matter more than who you are playing against. So obviously you will assess strengths and weaknesses of all sides. As I have said before, you can’t raise or decrease your intensity according to who you are playing against. That’s not being fair to the sport and that’s something that we as a team do not believe in. So, we like to prepare the same way and we like to play with the same kind of intensity regardless of who we are playing against.

On the process of identifying bowlers for the World Cup. Would it be three bowlers and two bowling all-rounders now?

Could be...(quite) possibly. A lot of teams are heading that way. You need depth in batting; you need depth in bowling as well. I think those two all-rounders provide that kind of balance to you. That’s why we have someone like Hardik (Pandya) or Axar (Patel) in the team. Or (Ravindra) Jadeja... he is a proper left-arm all-rounder. You need to identify at least two of those guys for your side to have more strength in both the departments. That's something that all the sides around the world are going to move towards because of the strength it gives you in both departments.

Listen to Kohli's press meet

 

Along with the guy being a top fielder as well, that's very, very important. You need a proper all-rounder and not a bowling and a batting all-rounder. That’s something we have focused on. It has paid good dividends in the last series as well and that's something we will look to continue as it gives us good balance.

On whether reaching hundred hundreds is on his mind…

I don’t play for the three-figure mark. Maybe, that’s why I end up crossing it more often because I am not thinking about it. So I don't put myself under pressure in terms of achieving a landmark.

For me, what's most important is to win the match for the team. As I said before, even if I am 98 not out or 99 not out, I don't mind, as long as I win the game. In that process things end up happening because you want to stay till the end. If there is enough runs on the board you end up achieving those landmarks because you are thinking of that end result not about you reaching that landmark. So my motivation has never been that, it will never be that. Whatever time I play, (be it) eight years, 10 years, 12 years — whatever it is, I will never think of that because it just doesn't come to me naturally.

For me what's most important is how can I help the team win with the bat in the field, giving my 120 per cent every time I step onto the field and preparing accordingly - that I think is more important to me than the personal landmark. If I end up achieving them, they feel good afterwards because you have scored runs and made the team win. But you can't start off thinking about (these) things because you lose the ultimate goal which is to win the game for the team.

On tensions on the field. Is it more draining that players lose cool?

I don’t think so. You can say what you want, you can keep talking the whole time but if you don’t deliver on the field it doesn’t matter. All those things are to get that aspect of mind games, which I think creates an excitement for the fans watching as well.

And also for the players involved in the series you know, that becomes more exciting and players are more pumped up to win games, outdo each other. I don’t think it boils down to mental and physical fatigue because once you have done things for so many years and played high-intensity difficult series so many times, I don't think that that is a factor that comes into play because you should be physically and mentally fit enough to be calm in pressure situations when you are executing your skill.

I think it is very important to have that competitiveness in every series that you play.

On bowlers and their fate in these conditions

Look if it is happening on both sides, then obviously you have to understand the wickets are really good to play. And even saving 10-15 runs can actually make a difference. You don’t need to start thinking you need to bowl out a team for 250 or 260 if the wicket is good to bat on, because then you are setting expectations that could not be achieved. You need to be realistic on how many runs can be scored on this pitch and how many can we give less for us to give an advantage when we bat.

The game is moving so rapidly that even in Test cricket, runs are scored at four an over without losing too many wickets. The skill level of the batsman has changed according to how the game is moving,  especially with Twenty20 coming on. The effect of that is going to be on the other formats as well.

I don’t think you can pressurise the bowlers too much in that regard. But where the situation of picking up wickets comes and they have assistance from the pitch, you will see low-scoring games as well. Yeah, I mean, the two new balls, especially in the sub-continent, becomes difficult for the bowlers to get wickets at regular intervals. They just have to be smart in patches to get the total down.

On if he is tempted to play wrist-spinners?

It is a great advantage to have two wrist spinners in your team, especially when both are so different to each other and both can pick up wickets in the middle overs. That is the most important thing in one-day cricket - you can have as many dot balls as you want - but if you can’t pick up wickets you can go for 10-12 runs an over.

It is important to keep picking wickets and have breakthroughs throughout. Those two guys have provided that to us and they are very confident coming into this series. They are in a zone where they don’t mind getting hit as long as they pick up 3-4 wickets which I think is a very good space to be in and it's something that gives me , as a captain, a lot of confidence.