Virat Kohli: 'International cricket nowadays is all about mindset'

The Indian team must be sure of its game-plan for success, says the captain.

Virat Kohli at a press conference in Dharamsala on Saturday, ahead of the T20 series opener. Photo: PTI

Any team can pull off a surprise anywhere, India captain Virat Kohli has admitted.

Commenting on taking on a South African team in transition ahead of the T20 series opener in Dharamsala, he said, "Any team call pull a surprise anywhere. We have beaten sides in their home conditions also. For us as a home team, we have to be absolutely sure about our game-plan. The way we have to be prepared for overseas series, we have to be very, very focussed. It's the same. International cricket nowadays is all about the mindset. Every condition can be home condition if you feel comfortable."

Mindset is important even for those players playing different international formats and adjusting to the demands, according to Kohli.

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"You require a lot of hard work, to keep working on your game. I think the most important thing is to find the safest way possible to score runs in all formats. So, if you can think of that, rather than I go into a game thinking 'I'm going to try and sweep a fast bowler,' then I'll look stupid. I try to mould my game according to my strengths. That's been my strength over the years. And, I think mindset matters. As long as you're wanting to play well for the team in every format that you play you will play that format with respect. So you can't treat any format casually. That's always been my mindset, every game that I play I give my 120 percent; invariably you will find a way to score runs in whatever game that you play," he said.

'Exciting'

For this particular series, the Indian team has a lot of new players. Explaining the rationale behind this, Kohli said, "We have about 30 matches before the T20 World Cup. These are the opportunities - these first two-three series - to try and firm up a combination, to assess the character and ability of the new players, their composure to perform at the international level.

"From that point of view, it's quite exciting, from the captain and management point of view - to fit players in various spots and see how they perform. We have all gone through this process. It feels good when new players come and express themselves."

Kohli revealed Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, the wrist spinners, had been excluded from the squad in part because of the management's desire to possess a strong lower order.

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"I think it's about finding the best balance we can as a side, and not necessarily stick to one kind of combination. If all teams across the world are batting till No. 9, 10, why can't we? You need to take those calls at some stage; bringing both of those guys in at one stage was also not taken well by people. Whatever decisions are made are to make sure that the team has best and the strongest balance that we can have approaching a world tournament that we have next year, so, it's part that factor, and part, to check out the guys who are coming and how they're performing at the international level," Kohli explained.

Amidst this, M. S. Dhoni is definitely in the scheme of things for the Indian team, reiterated Kohli.

"Experience is always going to matter. Numerous times people have given up sportsmen and they have proved people wrong and he's done that many times in his career. One great thing about him is that he thinks about Indian cricket, and whatever we think he's on the same page. The mindset he has had to groom youngsters and give people the opportunity, he's still the same person.

Virat Kohli on M. S. Dhoni: "As long as he is available and continues to play he is always going to be very, very valuable." File Photo: AP

 

"When you decide to stop playing is absolutely an individual thing. No one else should have any opinion on it. That's what I think. As long as he is available and continues to play he is always going to be very, very valuable."

'Gracious gesture'

Kohli said he himself has a lot of cricket left in him, and therefore never expected a stand would be named after him at the Ferozeshah Kotla.

"Initially, it was hard to believe because I'm still playing, I still have a lot of cricket left. It's a very gracious gesture and something I never expected. You don't think about these things as a cricket, you see other people have stands and have their names on pavilions, but as a cricketer you never strive for these things. But for someone who gives you that kind of respect you feel grateful and honoured," he said.