‘Stay calm’ is Virat Kohli’s mantra before World T20 opener.
Nagpur: The mature head on Virat Kohli’s shoulder again made its presence felt in the Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) stadium here, bringing to the fore an understanding of the game that makes a player stand apart.
MS Dhoni kept to football while Kohli paced into the press conference in the customary pre-match-day media address. But there was hardly a soul there that missed a captain.
“The whole feel and vibe of such a big tournament is different from a bilateral,” he stated the obvious, before underling what he meant by that. “Our biggest strength will be to not look at it as a new tournament but to keep our [winning] momentum going,” he stressed.
“At home people come to you and say ‘we must win’; we expect and understand that playing in India,” Kohli added, followed by an advice that always keeps you maintain your equilibrium.
“It’s important to not get carried away, staying calm is important,” India’s No. 3 added. “We obviously are our own favourites but it’s important to focus game by game.”
It’s India’s first big multi-lateral tournament at home since winning the 2011 World Cup, which naturally brings with it similar hopes, that the boys will bring back memories of 2011 when all roads from the Wankhede Stadium turned into a sea of tricolour.
In five years since then, Kohli has grown as a player and matured into a leader in Tests. There’s isn’t a better man young boys like Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah can go to and ask how to keep the butterflies away. Kohli recognises those anxious feelings.
“I had anxiety in 2011 to establish myself, so it might be the case with players like Pandya and Bumrah but they are very confident,” the Delhi man said, before coming to the remedy.
“I see a big stage as an opportunity rather than pressure,” he said, hinting how to handle that funny feeling.
Talking about one game at a time, India will have to rewrite history against the Kiwis, who have never lost to MS Dhoni’s boys in T20 internationals.
Will that force India to change its winning combination, with Mohammed Shami returning fit? Kohli has his doubts
“Shami has done really well whenever he has played regularly for us, we all were waiting for him to come back,” he said with a glee, before answering the next question which said if India will change their combination.
“It’s difficult to change a combination that has worked for you so well, but then you have to asses the situation and conditions before selecting an XI. The captain and team management will sit down and decide,” he said.
Regarding the Indian top order that has so far carried the team in last three series that India won, Kohli said he and the openers know the roles they have to play and bat accordingly.
“[Shikhar] Dhawan’s role is go out and take on the bowlers; I and Rohit [Sharma] try to assess the situation and play accordingly,” he said, before recognising the bigger challenges that lies ahead.
“Your skill and concentration is tested the most in T20s…We are pretty confident having won 10 of last 11 games but this is going to be far more challenging,” he said, before pushing his chair back to join the training.