Captaincy Does Not Allow You To Be Complacent, Says Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli maintained that captain was only as good as his team, refusing a verdict on his leadership.

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Virat Kohli said when you are leader of the side batting becomes a more serious job.

Virat Kohli on Wednesday said it was too early to pass a judgment on his captaincy but insisted he has become a better batsman after assuming the leadership role since captaincy does not leave any room for complacency. Kohli maintained that captain was only as good as his team, refusing a verdict on his leadership.

“I don’t judge myself after every series. Priority and the only goal that we have is to win games of cricket. Captaincy will be as good as how your team performs and how consistent the players are. If we are not playing to our potential as players, there’s not much I can do as captain.

“The more the team becomes mature, the captain starts looking good. If the team doesn’t do well, the captaincy bit seems out of control,” Kohli said on the eve of series-opener against Australia.

“Maybe five to eight years down the line I will be able to judge myself as a captain if I remain captain for that long. I feel personally it’s too early for me to sit down and judge what I have done well or haven’t,” he said.

Kohli, who has enjoyed a phenomenal run in recent past both as a batsman and captain, said when you are leader of the side, batting becomes a more serious job.

“Captaincy does not allow you to be complacent at any stage especially with the bat if that is your only discipline in the game, in the field as well. In that aspect I think complacency goes out the window as captain,” Kohli said on the eve of the series-opener against Australia.

“You tend to focus a lot more on certain situations which you might or might not without the extra responsibility on your shoulders and may play a loose shot.”

Kohli said it hold true for his Australian counterpart Steve Smith as well.

“Captaincy requires you to be on point throughout the game that’s one thing which has worked well for me and I think Steve Smith as well. He has been performing consistently with the bat and as captain as well. It’s the same scenario there as well. Captain’s responsibility has urged him to focus a bit more in certain situations and push that much extra for his team and that has shown in his performances.

“He is the no. 1 Test player in the world and there’s a reason for that. I can’t pinpoint any similarities in our career. I have seen him in the academy he was never a dominant batsman and it’s a remarkable achievement for someone starting his career as a leg-spinner.”

The young Indian batsman said he hardly thinks about others’ opinion about him even as he is quite comfortable in his skin now.

“I am pretty confident of where my game stands and pretty comfortable with myself as a person now. People writing articles or speaking about certain things, that’s their job. I have no control over it, they have to write or criticise or not criticise, that’s not in my control.

“I focus on my game and that’s the priority for me,” he said when asked about how he handled the pressure of being in the spotlight all the time.

The Indian team is approaching the four-Test series against Australia with a more settled frame of mind than against England, said Kohli.

“We come into the series much more confident and surer about us as a squad and what we want to do. Every match and series is challenging and we don’t see any series as high or low. All teams we had played were good quality teams. Australia is no different.

“England was a very tough series. We started off (home season) with a draw which we managed and which was not a convincing draw from our side. It was more of not letting the opposition win and from there on we turned things around.

“That took a lot of character and the team is in a different mind, space ever since that first game in Rajkot. The mindset has been different,” said Kohli.

The 28-year-old Delhi stalwart once again emphasised that his team members do not focus on the opposition but on their own strengths.

“We don’t need to focus too much on the opposition, at the same time we respect them. Last game we respected Bangladesh equally. Every opposition has to be respected on equal terms. We are not worried about the opposition’s combinations or what they want to come up with. We are pretty comfortable with what we want to do. That’s our strength, not focusing on opposition too much.”

He expected the track prepared for the game at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium as dry.

“Even in the one-day games that we have played here, the surface was dry underneath. It had a decent covering of grass which you need to keep for the surface to hold itself together. This time of the year when the summer comes in the wicket tends to get slower and lower. So that’s what we expect from this wicket as well.

“We expect it to turn from day two, day three. It’s very difficult to keep the wicket together. We understand exactly how the wicket’s going to play.”

He said the Indian pace bowlers were now comfortable with a more restrictive role they have been given to play.

“The pacers have stood out. People who have standout performances are the ones in the limelight but guys who have important contributions, especially with the ball, are the ones that take those important one or two wickets in between the innings to give the spinners a bit of rest and then come back and attack again. The pace bowlers have been able to do that.

“One reason for that is they are very comfortable in the roles they have been given. To run in hot conditions and not necessarily having the plan to attack all the time can be difficult. And that’s one reason for our success as well. People are playing selfless cricket and the fast bowlers have been the prime contenders for that.

“The way they have stood out during the England series and against Bangladesh as well. Just now in Hyderabad, Umesh, Bhuvi, Ishant all three of them. Even against New Zealand they came up with important contributions throughout the series. So it’s been a massive, massive factor for us in winning those series.”

He described Mitchell Starc, the Aussie pace spearhead, as a world class bowler.

“He has been hampered by injuries quite often, but the way he has evolved as a bowler, it’s been outstanding. I have played with him in IPL, I have faced him in my first tour to Australia. From then to now it’s a massive change. “He has learnt the art of reverse swing and bowling with the old ball as well is amazing to see, the way he has developed his skills. That’s something that every cricketer in the world would admire. He has really taken his game to the next level and that’s why he is counted among the top bowlers in world cricket and deserves to be there.”

Kohli said he understands the reason for the visitors to have brought so many slow bowlers.

“I am not surprised (with the side including four spin bowlers), coming to India playing in summers. Wickets are meant to be dry and they are meant to turn. You will have a stronger spin bowling attack then getting six seven fast bowlers. That is a pretty natural selection,” he said.

© THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Important To Back Your Top XI – Virat Kohli

‘Rahane deserves to walk back into the team’ – Kohli.

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Virat Kohli has said that India are unlikely to make too many changes, particularly in their batting line-up, as the think-tank looks to back players and give them confidence. The India captain has also said that youngsters who have performed will be groomed further as the team looks to build on its bench strength.

If India opt to not play six batsmen in this game, Karun Nair could miss out despite his triple-hundred in India’s previous Test. Kohli said that Nair has done well to stay in the squad but if it comes down to picking between the two players, the more established Ajinkya Rahane will get the call. Nair, who made his debut in the third Test against England in Mohali, got two more opportunities after Rahane was forced out due to a finger injury. India coach Anil Kumble had also said the side had not forgotten Rahane’s performances over the last two years.

Kohli said that while certain conditions may dictate the selection of an extra pace bowler or spinner, the batting line-up is likely to be kept consistently similar

“You need to back players for a long time for them to become match-winners and have long careers. I think bowlers can be switched according to conditions. You might want to play seamers or three spinners, some guys might have more pace or reverse swing, you can change those.

“I think from a batting point of view you need big runs in Test cricket, and to chop and change continuously doesn’t let them gain confidence. People who have been regular in the XI need to be given a chance. If form or that kind of thing happens you are subject to that change, otherwise it’s important to back your top XI. At the same time, you need to keep those youngsters within the squad and groom them. I think communication is a big thing on that front and we do that very well with the management, conveying to the players what they want.”

Kohli said that India’s bench is filled with cricketers who can step up to replace the incumbents when needed. “Bench strength gives you options when people are injured. That’s where it comes. An injury should not deplete a team; that’s something that bench strength contributes from. We are lucky to have guys who are up and ready for Test cricket. Jayant [Yadav] walked in beautifully. In T20s and one-dayers you saw [Yuzvendra] Chahal and Kedar [Jadhav] stepping up. We do have a pool of players who are coming up nicely. Credit obviously goes to the selectors for identifying them, and to the players as well who practise their disciplines regularly, that’s how you come up into that pool.

“I think it’s a back-and-forth sort of thing where you identify players but they have to put in the effort, which they have. So we’ve been lucky. We have good bench strength going forward. God forbid if there is any injury, we have two-three guys to fill up positions,” he said.

Kohli said that the India bowling attack’s patience during partnerships had helped them win seven of the eight home Tests this season, against New Zealand and England.

“I think is what we have done well over the last four Test matches not before, I would say, is be patient when there’s been a partnership. I think there was one instance in West Indies in Jamaica when we kept going positive and we didn’t hold back and we couldn’t take 20 wickets and the bowlers got tired,” he said. “I think we have done the patience bit very well in the series against New Zealand and England, bogging down the batsman and earning the wickets in difficult situations in the game.

“That’s something we want to do and to improve on as a team. When everyone is young, everyone is excited in the team. Sometimes people tend to get carried away and you don’t understand the importance of being patient.

“But I think the guys have worked hard on their fitness, they don’t mind bowling dot balls without attacking the batsman throughout the day. They have the fitness to bowl all day in one channel and when the door opens, just sneak in. That’s the biggest learning we have had in the past season and we’d like to take that forward.”

© Mohammad Isam, ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Virat Kohli Is Learning Captaincy Tricks From MS Dhoni

Virat Kohli took over India’s limited overs captaincy from Mahendra Singh Dhoni just before the start of England’s One-Day International series.

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MS Dhoni is like a mentor to Virat Kohli, said the current Indian skipper.

After routing England at home in all three formats of the game, India skipper Virat Kohli said that he is learning the tricks of captaincy from his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni. The Delhi-born said he is benefitting from the immense experience of Dhoni in taking decisions in the limited overs format, which is relatively new for him in terms of leadership. India claimed the Twenty20 International series 2-1 after a comprehensive 75-run win in the third and final game in Bengaluru on Wednesday night.

“Although I have captained in the Test format for a while, ODI and T20 games move very fast. So to take advice from a person (Dhoni) who has captained the side at this level for so long and understands the game really well is never a bad idea in crucial situations,” Kohli said.

The young captain disclosed that he wanted Hardik Pandya to bowl after star-performer Yuzvendra Chahal’s quota was over but was advised by Dhoni and Ashish Nehra to hand the ball to Jasprit Bumrah, who scalped two wickets in three balls to finish the game.

“Bringing on Bumrah right after that over from Chahal, I was thinking of giving (Hardik) Pandya another over instead. (Dhoni and Nehra) suggested that let’s not wait till the 19th over and instead bring on the main bowlers. So these things really help when you are a new captain in the limited-overs format.

“But again, I am not new to captaincy, but there has to be a balance between understanding the skills needed to lead in shorter formats. MS has been helping a lot on that front.”

Kohli said the Indian team, which has many yougsters, has made a very fast progress.

“We got the results we wanted. Obviously winning all three series feels really, really good right now because we’re up against a top-quality side. We understand that and to come on top after the end of all three series is a great feeling altogether knowing that we didn’t have that much experience in our teams.

“The Test team is almost as good as new. Even in the one-day circuit, we have 3-4 experienced guys, but rest of the guys who stepped up are all youngsters, which is, I think, is a massive, massive boost for Indian cricket,” he said.

Kohli said the biggest takeaway for winning all three series for the team was the “youngsters were hungry to win matches for the team instead focusing on individual performances.”

Kohli said wickets in the middle overs by spinner Yajuvendra Chahal made the job easy for them.

“If we don’t get wickets in middle overs any total is chaseable in Bengaluru. No total looks far-fetched and any batting lineup in the world can explode in the end. So, key today was to take wickets in middle overs and Chahal did a good job to take those wickets,” he said.

Kohli also said that England’s batting collapse will not hamper English players’ chances in IPL auction. The visitors lost eight wickets for as many runs to suffer a dramatic slide in the match.

“I don’t think the collapse is going to hamper anyone’s chances of being picked in the IPL. It all depends, which team wants who, who provides better balance to  whichever franchise they could play for. As I said a lot of them are going to be up for grabs. I can assure you that,” he told reporters after the match here at Chinnaswamy stadium.

Unlike earlier years when England players were not available in large numbers at the lucrative IPL auction, the scenario will be different this time, England Captain Eoin Morgan had said at Cuttack recently.

Morgan hoped a lot of English players would be available for the auction and hopefully, they would be picked up and playing the majority of the games.

The auctioning for the 10th edition is scheduled to be held here soon and would be the final one under the 10-year contract. As many as 140 cricketers, including 44 overseas cricketers have been retained by eight IPL franchises.

The window for retention of players closed on December 15 and seven teams except KKR (Kolkata Knight Riders) have retained more than 20 players.

© NDTV SPORTS

Virat Kohli Says T20Is Chance For Parvez Rasool to Prove Himself

India captain Virat Kohli said that the three Twenty20 Internationals against England are a chance for Parvez Rasool and Yuzvendra Chahal to establish themselves.

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Virat Kohli will be leading the Indian cricket team in the three-match T20I series vs England.

India captain Virat Kohli on Wednesday said that Yuzvendra Chahal and Parvez Rasool have a chance to prove themselves and establish their presence in the three Twenty20 Internationals to be played against England. He feels that the series will provide the perfect opportunity for the duo to establish themselves as “specialists” in the shortest format of the game. A good show by Rasool and Chahal may also lessen the workload on world’s premier spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who along with Ravindra Jadeja, has been rested for the T20Is.

“The guys who have come in have done pretty well in the IPL, in the domestic T20s. The areas they are bowling in are pretty good and are pretty economical. Yuzvendra, everyone has seen his performances, even Rasool played under me at RCB,” Kohli said at the pre-match media conference.

“It is probably a breakthrough series for them. They haven’t played a big series yet so this might be the perfect opportunity to seal their spots as T20 specialist spinners for the future,” Kohli made it clear as to what is there in stake for youngsters.

About Rasool, the skipper said that he has an ability to bowl with the new ball.

“He (Rasool) is pretty confident, he can bowl with the new ball against the most attacking guys. These two guys are very smart about their bowling. I am sure they will able to replicate their domestic success at this level.”

The series is also big break for the likes of Rishabh Pant , Mandeep Singh along with veterans Ashish Nehra and Suresh Raina.

Ask about Raina, who has not played a match for national time since World T20 in March.

“I think he (Raina) still has a lot to offer. He has not played in a while because there have not been too many limited overs series since the World T20. We played a lot of Test matches in between so it seems there is a bit of a gap. We still believe he has enough to contribute in shorter formats. I would say it is a series of opportunities for a lot of guys to seal their spots,” the skipper said.

“Everyone is included in the squad is because we feel that they can contribute. At the end of the day, it is up to the individual (to perform). Hopefully he (Raina) gets back into the groove, he certainly has a lot to offer especially in shorter formats,” he further added.

The skipper made it clear that there is not much room for changing the team composition in the opening game before adding that he can also open the innings just like he has done it for the RCB in the IPL.

“It is quite easy as of now (the team combination). The problem always arises when you don’t have consistency. Starting now we would be able to figure out the best combination after a few games. In the first game, you have a set line-up to start with but if there are consistency issues with a batting position then it becomes difficult , whether you want to replace the guy or stick with him for a few more games,” explained Kohli.

Going forward, Kohli elaborated as to why he would like to open the innings.

“There are all kinds of possibilities. In the IPL, you don’t have many Indian batsmen to choose from because they are spread across the franchisees. Here (in international cricket) you have a lot of options as far as Indian batsmen are concerned.

“We have a lot of options (in batting line-up), which is a very good thing. If need be I can open, it all depends on the balance of the side. I have only opened in one T20 International, may be two but I have experience of opening in the IPL. If need be, I could or I might not. It all depends on the balance of the side,” he stressed.

India were the better team in both Tests and ODIs though the 50-over series was closely fought. Kohli said the team is capable of a lot more than what it has produced this season.

“We would definitely like to extend our run from Test and ODIs to T20s. We want to play more special cricket, play more positive than what we have in the past, not worry about the result too much. In this format we need to go out and show our true potential.”

There is stiff competition for places among the seniors and juniors.

“The squad if you see has been selected like that. We have got quite a few youngsters who want to prove with senior guys in the team. Eventually the idea is groom them enough and then to give them more confidence and have a gradual progress graph for them. It is important to back them enough,” he concluded.

© NDTV SPORTS

Virat Kohli Proud Of Team India’s Unselfish Attitude

Virat Kohli said he was proud of the way his team bounced back after conceding 477 runs against England in the first innings of the Chennai Test.

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Virat Kohli said he could not have asked for anything more than an emphatic victory over England in the final Test after the series had already been clinched in Mumbai.

India demolished England by an innings and 75 runs in Chennai to register a historic 4-0 triumph over England. This must be sweet revenge for India, who had lost their last three successive series to England in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

England had piled up a mammoth 477 in the first innings in Chennai before India responded with 759/7 declared thanks to a triple hundred from Karun Nair and 199 from Lokesh Rahul. On a final-day pitch that had little in it for the spinners, Ravindra Jadeja then weaved his magic to pick up career-best figures of 7/48 as England were dismissed for 207 with little under 10 overs remaining in the day.

“Couldn’t have asked anything more and especially after winning the series 3-0 and performing like this. It’s an evidence of the character of this side and what the guys prepare like for a Test match, playing for the country,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

“They take a lot of pride and it was evident in the way we batted and bowled. We wanted the youngsters to do well. KL Rahul had a good domestic season but didn’t have a great outing and then came back and almost got a double century. Karun didn’t have two good Tests and then does this (an unbeaten 303).”

Kohli hailed his team for pulling off a spectacular victory despite being on the backfoot, having first lost the toss and then conceding a huge firsts innings total. But like they did throughout the series, India stuck to their guns and eventually trumped over England with their relentlessness.

Kohli, who became the first Indian captain to win nine Tests in a year, said he was aware of the psychological damage it would to England after India had taken a 282-run lead.

“It’s always tricky when you have scored 477 and then concede a lead of 282. Mentally and psychologically, it is always a dent. We knew that.

“We realized that once we got a couple of wickets, it will be a downward slide. They don’t want to be ina position after getting so many runs and be in a losing position. Jadeja did the job in both the innings. Hit right areas and made it uncomfortable for the batsmen. Intensity was top class,” Kohli said.

Kohli stressed he was proud of his team for having taken the toss out of the equation. India had lost four tosses in the five Tests of the series and had to bounce back after conceding 400 plus totals in the last two matches. The young captain was also proud of the way his players put the team before personal glory.

“Very proud. Toss and pitches were out of the equation. We were up against big totals and we won by an innings. Doesn’t happen too often in Tests. We work hard everyday and believe in us. We don’t care about what’s happening outside; what matters is what each one of us thinks about the other. There’s lot of respect and friendship in that dressing room and it’s evident on the field. Nobody is playing for himself. Every time we were put under the pump, we have tightened up on giving away wickets at crucial time, especially after intervals. We have improved on that.

“The lower order has deflated the opposition, scoring 200+ three times, and their hard work in the nets showed. Our pace was quicker than theirs, even the consistency was better, and it was very proud moment for me as an Indian captain, seeing the fast bowlers stepping it on. Kudos to the hard work they have put in in the past few months.”

© Rajarshi Gupta, indiatoday.in