Virat Kohli: 2019 World Cup will be the most challenging

Addressing the media in Mumbai, Kohli said, "Preparations wont be any different, we have to just focus on our quality and intensity irrespective of the opposition."

Virat Kohli suggested that pressure can have more of an impact than the conditions at the World Cup.   -  ap

Team India captain Virat Kohli has featured in two World Cups already — in 2011 and 2015 — but admits that his third outing will be the ‘most challenging’ because of the lengthy format of the tournament.

In this edition, each team will play nine league matches, before advancing to the last-four stage — a format similar to that in the 1992 World Cup.

“Personally, I feel it is probably the most challenging World Cup of all the three that I have been a part of because of the format,” Kohli said at the team’s pre-departure media interaction on Tuesday. 

Drawing reference to the Afghanistan team — which played as an associate nation in the last World Cup — Kohli admitted that most sides have grown from strength to strength.  “If you look at Afghanistan from 2015 to now, they are a completely different side. Any team can upset anyone on their day. That’s one thing we have in mind,” the captain said.

He emphasised that India's focus will be on playing to its strength. “If we live up to our skills and our standards that we have set for ourselves, we will probably be on the right side of the results more often. That’s going to be the key.

“Every game you have to play to the best of your potential because it’s not a group stage any more, it’s just playing everyone. I think it’s a great thing to have for any team. It’s going to be a different challenge and something that every team will have to adapt to very quickly."

Strong competition

The team’s head coach, Ravi Shastri, was part of the Indian team in the 1992 World Cup and admitted that teams will find the new format "very challenging."

“If you look at 2014 and 2019 now – the gap is much closer now between teams. You see what Afghanistan was in 2014 (and) see what they are now. See what Bangladesh was and see what they are now. It’s a strong competition,” Shastri said.

The Indian team will depart for the UK in the early hours of Wednesday and will play its first warm-up game on May 25.