Ahead of the virtual quarterfinal in the World T20 at the PCA Stadium here on Sunday, ace Indian batsman Virat Kohli said focus and composure would be the key to success in the crucial encounter against Australia.
“This format requires you to be at the top of your focus with the bat and on the field as well. That's the only thing we can look to do – stay in the moment and not get carried away with the bigger picture,” he said on the eve of the do-or-die contest in Mohali.
Adapting to situations
Kohli said he would take the positives from India's unexpected win over Bangladesh as well as the 3-0 away series win over Australia into the crucial engagement. “You always want to win convincingly but it is not possible all times. Sometimes you have to adapt well to tough situations like we did in the last two games. If you look at how we have played this season, we have been consistent. We can focus on what we did in Australia and take positives out of it but can't take anything for granted, it is a virtual quarterfinal. Why we beat them is important to remember rather than thinking only about the result. If we play to our potential, we can beat them again,” he said.
Kohli, who is in the form of his life, took a dig at his critics. “When I started, a lot about me was wrong. I was the tattoo guy, the one who wore stylish clothes. It is very easy to focus on the negative stuff but I choose not do that. The basic thinking is I want to improve as a cricketer every day. I make sure I do all the hard work and hope it pays off one day. I back myself to go out there and win the game.”
“As a cricketer, you don't have a long career. For me it is an opportunity. Once you get addicted to it (performing), you want more and more of it. You work so hard and you want that satisfaction,” he explained.
India had beaten Pakistan here in the semifinals of the 50-over World Cup in 2011. Tomorrow is another crucial game.
“One thing I have learnt is that if you play well in semis and finals of the World Cup you become more confident as a player. The occasion (in 2011) was too overwhelming for me. I had seen the Prime Ministers of both countries present at the ground. It is very easy to look at all these aspects and not focus on what you have to do. It is very important to be aware of the moment and celebrate after it is all done,” said Kohli.
Kohli narrated the sequence of events that led to India’s win over Bangladesh in the last game with skipper M.S. Dhoni sprinting towards the stumps for a last ball run out.
“Experience counts a lot in these situations. He has captained India in such big games and has that self assurance built over a period of time. We all know he is composed and calm. While I was standing at the boundary, there was Ashu bhai (Nehra) to talk to him. He was also very calm at the moment. M.S. got good suggestions from him and it was an important moment for us.
“The most staggering part was that he did not throw the ball and was very sure that he could beat the batsman with pace. It was brilliant from him under the circumstances.”
Kohli said the key to success in a world event is adaptability to conditions that differ from match to match. “It is very important to assess conditions. We do have meetings on what can be done on different surface. It also depends on individuals, how they want to go about playing on a particular pitch. You need to plan according to your strength.”
And on game day, too much pre-planning doesn’t help. “Adaptability is key in this competition. It is not like IPL, where you have seven home and away games. It is a big challenge,” he said.
All out to stop Smith
Captain >Steven Smith is a crucial cog in Australian line-up and Kohli said it would be important to stop him.
“He is a very important player for Australia. The way their batting unit works, someone like Smith gives them solidarity. It always helps as a batting unit. He is a very good player and world class player and in these scenarios you always want the big players out. That is what we will try to do as well,” said Kohli, reiterating that he relishes the challenge of playing against Australia.
Do extreme reactions from the fans bother him? “There is no point speaking about something you have no control on. We want to win the tournament. We are working as hard as possible. Reactions will always be extreme. We don’t focus on these things. You need to draw the line of things you absorb and ignore negatives. That is the key at international level,” Kohli said.
“It is difficult but that is what helps. You don’t think about reaction while facing a cricket ball.”
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