Virat Kohli on the World Cup squad, MS Dhoni, India’s chances in the world cup 2019.
On his most important tournament of his life.
If you look at the amount of games that we are playing now a days, it is more when compared to number of games we played a few years ago. Back in 2011, I was very young, and all the pressure was on management, MS Dhoni and the senior players who were playing from long so that did not have much of an impact on me or did not pressurise me. In 2015, I was in the team, I was the main component of the team, yet I did not have much of an idea of the pressure that is on the management and the captain. However, this year is different, the involvement that I have this year for the World Cup is quite challenging and this has to be the biggest tournament of my career so far because I have been part of the team for almost 10 years now, team is doing well and I am captaining the team so people of the country are having a lot of expectations from the team and handling these situations and channelizing this as an ambition or goal is what excites me and I look at it as an opportunity.
On World Cup squad selection:
I am very happy with the team selection and selectors have done great home work as we were looking to have a balanced squad. It is good that the management, selectors and the captain are all on the same page. We did consult senior members and their vision about the team, so considering all of this we have chosen a team which is very balanced and looks to be a great side and is certainly one of the favourites because it covers all the aspects of the game from bowling options to batting.
On MS Dhoni:
When MS Dhoni was going through the phase where he was being criticised, we had full belief in him, and we knew that he understands where his game stands. He knew about what the Indian team needed in those current situations and what his roles are, so he knows about the game. I am not talking about the personal performances, but the way he has handled team, took all the pressure and responsibility, groomed so many youngsters, gave them chances, he deserved that space. We all knew what he gets to the table and after the criticism now everybody feels he is the crucial member of the squad. He has been through this journey, his small advices to the team makes it so much important for the team. So, we know the importance of him being in the squad.
On his personal run of form:
From the time I have changed my fitness regimes, my thinking has changed. I know what to eat, what to train, what time should I rest so these things that I have been doing has helped me in growing my confidence in the game and I feel that I can contribute much more than what I used to before. If I can’t hit sixes or if the situation demands not to take risks then I can contribute but converting 1’s to 2s, 2’s to 3’s and create pressure, I prepare for these things so that I contribute more.
Number 4 position dilemma:
I am very happy with Vijay Shankar, he gives us 3-Dimensional options. The way he bats, bowls and he is an outstanding fielder as well so we will get an option of him bowling 4-5 overs as well. If a player brings in these many qualities, then every team would love to add him to the squad. People have magnified the number 4 position in the squad. I honestly feel that every player has to contribute in their position no matter where they play so I think we should not be thinking about the number 4 position. We should always go with the team that can give us balance on that particular day.
On the wrist spinners in the World Cup.
I definitely feel that our experiment with wrist spinners in the middle overs has been very important. We are playing each team once so that is a massive advantage in the world cup as will not play them again in turn give them a chance and the time to do their homework and improve. Chahal and Kuldeep bowl well together and they are good friends as well so reading them together at a time is going to be difficult for the opposition. Ravi Shastri has played a major role in getting the wrist spinners in the squad. In champions trophy we were struggling to get wickets in the middle overs, so he took a call on adding wrist spinners to the team and has payed rich dividends to the team.
On the team spirit and His role in the team.
I don’t confine my role in the team only for adjusting fields or on my performances. I always feel that there should be freedom. I feel that the players should be given opportunity to experiment and we should back them. If it pays off, then players understand their strengths and if doesn’t then we have other back up options. I have always been happy if our wrist spinners go for 60-70 runs in 10 overs and pick up 3-4 wickets so that is what I am looking for rather than them blowing 10 overs for 30 runs and picking up no wickets.
On 1.3 billion people watching you and backing you to win the World Cup.
I can always tell that I can give 500% to the team. The mind space which I am in currently, no matter which game I play I always want to give my everything on the field. For the World Cup my mind space will be the same. The hunger, passion which the 11 members have in the team is what excites me. The way batsmen are batting, bowlers are bowling the way team has shaped is what gets me going. To represent the nation and to get on to the field with this squad and to play the way we are playing is something I will be proud of and will be looking forward to in the World Cup.