Kohli throws down gauntlet

Omkar Paranjape
Wednesday, 22 May 2019

India’s cricket captain Virat Kohli talks of India’s chances at the ICC Cricket World Cup in England

Mumbai: Team India skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri addressed the media in the pre-departure press conference on Tuesday and they had a clear message to deliver: ‘If we play to our potential, the cup might be here.’ Kohli & Co will embark on their journey to England later on Tuesday night as the team seeks to bring India their third-ever 50-over World Cup in July.

Addressing the gathered media at the BCCI Centre here, Kohli stressed that handling the pressure will be the most important thing in the upcoming World Cup.

“Handling pressure is the most important thing in the World Cup and not necessarily the conditions,” the beaming skipper said adding he expects to see the side playing best cricket in the 50-over showpiece event.

Round robin format
The 30-year-old, who will be playing his third World Cup after 2011 and 2015, feels that this is the toughest tournament he has played yet because of the format.

“I personally feel this is the most challenging World Cup probably of the three I have played in because everyone is playing everyone and any team can beat anyone on their day. But, if we live up to the best of our potential, we will more often than not end on the right side of the results,” Kohli said.

Indian coach Ravi Shastri, who played the 1992 World Cup with the same ‘all-play-all’ format, opined that the challenge would be to maintain the intensity till the end of the cup.

The World Cup is a great opportunity, our team has played great cricket for the past five years. We need to enjoy the tournament. If we play to our potential then the Cup can be ours.

The format is also challenging, the gap between the team is also very close. It’s a very strong competition. It will be fantastic. The plus side is you have nine games,” Shastri, who coached India at the 2015 World Cup also, enthused.

Flexible team combinations
The coach also hinted at being flexible and not committing to any particular combination.

“Our mantra will be to be flexible and flexible according to the conditions. The pitches might be flat but if overcast conditions change, things change quickly in England, specifically in the northern parts,” Shastri, who was part of the victorious 1983 team, said.

Dhoni still the key
One of the senior-most members in the current World Cup squad, Dhoni will look to sign off on a high as this is expected to be his final appearance at the showpiece event.

Ahead of the start of the tournament, Shastri has termed MS Dhoni as Men in Blue’s trump card.

“ MS Dhoni’s communication with Virat has been great. The way he was moving in the IPL was great. As a keeper, he has shown that there’s no one better than him. He will be a big player in this World Cup,” Shastri said elaborating on Dhoni’s importance.

Great captains seize their moments, and for Virat Kohli, who has already won a World Cup title under Dhoni’s captaincy in 2011, the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup presents the moment of truth—at the home of the sport.

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