Virat Kohli's poor form on the 2014 tour of England has been the subject of much discussion leading into this series, but the man himself is indifferent to all that talk. "Back in the day when I did not know better, these things used to bother me because I used to read a lot," he said here on Tuesday on the eve of the first Test.
"But honestly — and I'm not saying this because I'm sitting here in front of all of you (the press) — I genuinely don't read anything. I have no idea what's going on. After the first two Tests in South Africa, I had no idea what was going on.
"My only focus was on my preparation and where the team had to head. If I waste my energy on all these things, I'm compromising on my mindset already. Because when I walk out to bat, I only have the bat in hand. Not people who sit on the outside who write and predict things. Very soon, I'm going to complete 10 years [of international cricket]. I didn't think 10 years ago that I'd be sitting here in my career. So I have no complaints whatsoever and I'm not in the frame of mind to prove myself in any country."
Virat Kohli was confident of India's chances, insisting that the five Tests had to be looked at more as an opportunity than an arduous examination. "There are two ways to think about this — either that it’s too long a series to play or that there are so many opportunities every session of every Test match," he said.
"We're a young team who have played a lot of matches. It’s a very rare combination to find. We have the skill sets, character and mental toughness which is required to compete and win in overseas conditions. How we played in South Africa, that gave us a lot of confidence."
India is ranked number one in the world while the home side sits fifth but Kohli would not entertain talk of being the favourite. "It doesn’t matter. If you are the underdog it’s not a given that pressure will only be on the opposition. Or if you are the favourite, it’s not certain that the underdog will come out and be fearless the whole time. It requires only an hour to turn the whole game. So, you need professionalism more than feeling like an underdog," he said.
Kohli has tough decisions to make in selecting his playing XI for Wednesday. It did not affect him, he stated, if a choice he made in good faith appeared wrong in retrospect.
“It all boils down to your gut feel,” he said.
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“If five people on the table agree that this is the right thing to do for the team, then we go ahead with that, there are no ifs and buts. Once we've made them we don't look back at them, whether they come off or not. They're taken in the best interests of the team at that particular time; there's total honesty and total ownership all around the squad.”
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