Chennai: His batting form has not been the best of late but an unfazed Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday said he does not need to put in any extra effort on that front as he has always played with responsibility for the team.
Kohli, who played for India A in the just-concluded second unofficial four-day Test against Australia A, produced knocks of 16 and 45 in the match which the home team lost by 10 wickets on Saturday.
India have not played much of Test cricket this year and Kohli’s form has been rather indifferent in the ODI arena where he hasn’t scored a hundred since February.
Asked if he needs to curb his aggressive approach to get back into the groove ahead of the tour of Sri Lanka starting August 12, the batsman responded with a firm no.
“As a batsman I have always been responsible with the way I play my cricket and it comes from wanting to win the game for the team everytime I play. So I don’t think I need to change too much in that aspect. I think that is one of the major reasons that the board thought that I could be the man to take up responsibility for the team,” Kohli told bcci.tv.
“It all boils down to how you play your cricket eventually and that’s the way I have always played my cricket, be it on the field, be it the way I bat, I always give my 100 per cent. Putting in that extra effort in batting I don’t think is required because I have always played in a responsible way for the team. And I will continue to do that till the time I play for my country,” he asserted.
Talking about the tour of Sri Lanka, which comprises three Tests, Kohli said he is looking forward to leading India for the first time in a full-fledged series.
“It’s basically my first full assignment as Test captain.”
“In Bangladesh it was a one-odd Test match it wasn’t a full-fledged series. So it will be a new challenge for me and the whole team because we have such a young squad and so many new players looking to build their careers,” he said.
“It is an exciting challenge to start together as a new unit. It is exciting for me and as a team. Everyone is very very happy and putting in all the effort required to do well in Test cricket. I am certain if we prepare well and have the right kind of vision, we will do really well in Sri Lanka. I am confident about the whole team and also hope that I am able to do the job given by BCCI,” he added.
India A, for which Kohli turned up here, is currently being coached by former skipper Rahul Dravid. Kohli said playing under his tutelage has been helpful.
“It’s always nice to be around great players like Rahul Dravid, because just their presence is so calming and so reassuring and even if you don’t want to speak about the game. Just having them around makes you feel good about your own cricket because just looking at them you can learn so much more,” Kohli said.
“I think being around him is always a good feeling. I have played lot of games with him as well. He is a very nice and genuine person. It is always nice to talk to him about the game and otherwise as well,” he added.
On why he chose to play this game, Kohli said, “…I wanted some kind of momentum going into the Sri Lanka tour.”
“We have had a decent break, I have had three weeks off.”
“I have had lots of time off the game, which was required to get mentally fresh and now with a week of training going into this India A game and a week or two of training after that as well, I think it will be the best preparation for me as far as preparing for the Sri Lanka tour is concerned, so that was the whole idea.”
Talking about individual players of the Sri Lanka-bound squad, Kohli praised opener Murali Vijay.
“He (Murali Vijay) has always been a very very solid opener for India. Everyone has a few hiccups in his career, all of us out involved in that bracket and all of us have gone through it. The best thing about him is that he is mentally very strong. Has a lot of patience, a very solid character and is very sure of himself and of his game,” he said.
“In Test matches he has been a very solid opener for us, especially after the pair of Sehwag and Gambhir that we had, he is the one who has given us lot of stability at the top of the order,” he added.
Also drawing praise from Kohli were young batsman Ajinkya Rahane and senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who has come back after being sidelined for more than two years.
“I really like Ajinkya (Rahane) as a batsman and as a fielder as well in the team. Really nice to have a guy who has so much energy and puts in 100 percent every time he steps on the field, every ball that he plays, every ball that he fields, he is always there for the team.”
“He is willing to do anything for the team requires of him and he is one guy who I feel will be a very important factor as far as Team India doing well in Test cricket is concerned, because he brings that solidarity in the middle order, coming straight after me.”
On Harbhajan, Kohli said he would have a crucial role to play in Sri Lanka.
“We have lot of experience with the spin department.”
“(Ravichandran) Ashwin has been wonderful for us. Harbhajan Singh has been a match-winner for India in Test matches and one-day cricket. So it’s great to have his vision, his ideas and his confidence back into the team and Amit Mishra as well.”
“He is bowling really well for the last one year or so and that is the reason why we wanted him in the team as well,” he said.
Kohli said even the pacers will be required to do well in the island nation.
“I think not just the spinners but the fast bowlers will also play a massive role in Sri Lanka. I think with the ball reversing later on, the fast bowlers have been the ones who have come in and given those crucial breakthroughs for the Test match to be won,” he said.
© NDTV SPORTS