“We are confident having won the last 10 of the 11 games we’ve played and want to take the momentum into this World Cup. Keen to start on a positive note and take it match by match. The recent Asia Cup was a very good preparation for us,” Kohli said at the pre-match press conference ahead of the opener against New Zealand here on Tuesday.
“But again, this World Cup is far more challenging and competitive given the fact that there are many strong teams unlike in a bilateral series,” Kohli commented.
“Every match is going to be big. We would love to focus on our strength rather than worry about what the opposition is about. That doesn’t matter to us at all. A lot of calmness is required. You can’t get carried away by any distractions. There is a need to strike a good balance between everything at this level,” he added.
World Cup winning experience
“Yes, being a member of the 2011 World Cup-winning team was a huge experience. It does help you to be tougher now. But again, your skills and mental toughness are tested more in a T20 format where things change dramatically.
“I remember many seniors facing a different kind of experience compared to me as I was the youngest and did not really feel the pressure. I saw how so many people advised the seniors during the 2011 World Cup how to play and win and all sorts of things,” he recalled.
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“Now is the time to soak all that and it is time to showcase our skills, importantly how well you manage off the field. I feel on-field is the safest place with least pressure where you can express yourself,” he said with a big smile.
Shami is back
On fast bowler >Mohammad Shami ’s comeback, Kohli said that the team was glad to have him back. “He has been taking wickets early in the innings. Always a plus for the team though his comeback doesn’t necessarily mean the need to change the combination which again is the prerogative of the captain and the team management,” he pointed out.
On the middle-order not getting enough chances in the recent past, Kohli said what was more important was the kind of impact a player has had on the game. “For instance, if someone plays a cameo at the end it will be equally important like an 80 at the top. So, we respect each other and don’t neglect anyone. The focus is not just on two or three players. The team bonding is the key. The feeling has to be there to contribute to the team’s win,” he explained. “This kind of mindset helps the player to stay in the zone,” he added.
Referring to the big three at the top — >Rohit Sharma , >Shikhar Dhawan and himself, Kohli said as Shikhar himself had said recently that his role was to play the natural game in the first six overs, he and Rohit would assess the game ball-by-ball.
“It is important not to have a rush of blood. The key is to keep the momentum going. Once you lose focus, it is difficult to come back into the game in this format,” he said.
On the anxiety factor amongst the younger players ahead of their maiden T20 World Cup, Kohli said he personally looked upon that as a challenge and a huge opportunity rather than feel any pressure.
“Playing in a World Cup cannot be a goal once you are there. Numbers don’t matter. You should have the craving to win the match for the team,” Kolhi felt.
“But I must say that players like Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah have played enough T20 cricket in IPL and also the finals. In fact, they have played more of this than when I played for India in the 2011 World Cup (50 overs). So, they are mentally tougher and more confident than I was then,” Kolhi remarked. “These players back their skills and I think that is the x-factor,” he said.