Captain Virat Kohli's interview before the Adelaide test

Captain Virat Kohli's interview before the Adelaide test

India’s stand-in captain and the 32nd skipper for the team Virat Kohli addressed the media before the first test match at Adelaide. Speaking about all aspects from the events that happened before the test match to MS Dhoni being with the team and not fit enough to play. Also on the aggression they would be out with and how does he look at the challenge Mitchell Johnson & Co. will be for the Indian batsmen.

Captain Virat Kohli's interview before the Adelaide test ( Image Source : AFP )
Captain Virat Kohli’s interview before the Adelaide test ( Image Source : AFP )

Excerpts of his interaction with the Media:

A lot has been spoken about the Australian team’s preparation, with the Phillip Hughes tragedy. How has it been for the Indian team?

Well, obviously it was a sad phase for everyone involved with the game of cricket and outside. We also felt a bit low in energy for those initial two-three days. But we have tried to get on with our practices and stay on track with our preparations because, at the end of the day, you have to move on with the game. We don’t want to be in a position where we are lacking in our preparations going into the first Test. We have been quite professional with it and the guys have prepared well according to whatever the incidents were. I think we have got back on track with our preparations quite nicely and everyone is looking in good nick.

Are you leading the team tomorrow, and perhaps feeling a bit different after the funeral?

Yes, I will be leading tomorrow.

After attending the funeral I was as emotional and as taken aback by the incident because Phil was one of the guys I used to interact with when he used to come on tours and when I was in Australia. I have done a course with him in Brisbane. I was always closer to him than most of the guys. It was equally saddening and emotional for me. But as professional cricketers you have to move on and do what needs to be done and move on to the next thing that you have to do which is to play a Test match tomorrow. The easier route could be still being in that zone as in not in having the complete mindset to play the game, but I think that’s where the tough part comes as a professional cricketer. You have to put back everything that has happened, be at your 100% of your ability and (get your) focus as well come tomorrow.

You would have had a to-do list when you got here. How has that changed?

Yeah, all of that has been discussed and all of that has been spoken about. We have plans in minds and we have things that we want to achieve, not hoping to achieve. I think that’s where we are trying to make a change as I have been pointing out for a while now, that we have come here with the mindset of winning the series rather than going out there and seeing what happens. That’s not an option because unless you believe in something you are not going to achieve it. That’s the plan going into this tour and leading up to the World Cup as well. The guys are on the same page, responding nicely. Nothing has increased in the to-do list. I think it’s all about keeping everyone on the same page, which is the most challenging part as a captain and team management combined. I think that’s something that we have done really nicely over the last couple of weeks and even the series back home. So the guys are feeling comfortable, they are happy with what we want from them. Definitely should be an exciting series.

The England series was a tough one for you (as a batsman). How challenging is this tour for you personally?

It’s just another two months in life, nothing bigger than that. I made the mistake of giving too much importance to things that are not in my control. I don’t know why that England phase is still being spoken about. I don’t live in yesterday, I don’t think anyone does. Most of us don’t even remember or want to remember what went on in those sessions or Test matches. It’s all about looking forward to tomorrow. If you keep sulking with the past there’s no way you’re going to move on in life and that’s something I believe in. I’m taking this tour as nothing more than two months in my life. It’s going to go on. If I do well, if I don’t do well, I’m still going to be the same guy sitting in front of you. Nothing’s going to change.

When you came here last, India didn’t do well. There has been improvement over the last year. What do you need to differently here?

As I said, maintaining the positive mindset throughout is important. Keeping the guys together is also one of the things we’re focussing on. It’s very easy for the guys who have an off game to keep sulking, and drift away from the kind of mindset we require them to be in. These are the things we’re trying to bring into the squad. Making them feel that we back them. If each member of the team has faith in each other and want to go out of there and play positive cricket, and have a mindset of making the team win, rather than focussing on personal performances, that’s the kind of change we could improve on. Sometimes we get too involved in our own technique or what kind of batting a particular person is doing rather than focussing on team plans. These sort of small things, which don’t really look big, but in the context of a Test match or Test series, these things are a massive factor.

What is the impact of having MS Dhoni around, even if he isn’t playing?

MS coming in is always a help for the younger guys in the team. His inputs are ever so important to the team. Just discussing plans with him, taking tips as to what we’re thinking of doing and what he feels about them. He’s been there, done that, seen possibly every situation. It’s always great to bounce things off him and get the feedback and utilise what you can.

Mitchell Johnson has done really well since you played him last, at home in India. What are your thoughts on playing him now?

Johnson has done really well for himself. We’re not giving it too much importance because, as I said, it’s another game of cricket: a ball is being bowled and you have a bat in hand. It’s nothing more than that. There’s nothing very special about a particular individual or a few individuals. It’s XI taking on XI on a field of cricket. That’s how simple we want to take it as.

There will be no DRS this coming week. India has taken a strong stance. Do you think that stance is vindicated and is there a chance for that stance to change?

The only point we have maintained is that it’s not 100% (accurate). We have seen incidents happen where DRS has been taken, some people feel that it’s clearly a not-out decision and the guy has been given out or it seems like it’s out and guys have been given not out. A ball hitting more than half of the ball hitting the stumps, the other half is just like a millimetre away. It doesn’t just make sense at times. Unless it is 100% accurate, I don’t think it can be a thing that will change our take on it. So, if it gets 100% accurate and consistent then who knows?

How close did MS Dhoni come to playing this Test and is it a case of lack of preparation?

Well, we are expecting him to be at 100% fitness in two days. A couple of days or maybe three. It’s a bit of both. We want him to be at 100% fitness level before he plays a game and, secondly, the kind of preparation he wants in Australia. It’s too short a span for him to go to a Test match without having enough practice here. It’s a mixture of the two factors. But we expect him to be 100% fit in the next few days.

You have pace at your disposal. Will you be targeting the Aussies with short balls?

I don’t think that’s even a thing of debate, I guess. It is a part of cricket. It’s every bowler’s right to utilise it and it depends on what we have in mind. We’ll obviously make use of it in the game. It’s there to be used. After the World Cup in 2011, the rules were changed to two bouncers per over. None of the players asked for it. It was a combined decision and the players have followed what has been given to them and put in front of them. I don’t think we will drift away from our plans. It’s still a part of cricket and you know we’re going to stick to the plans we have in mind. We have four bowlers who can bowl quick, all are fully fit right now. It’s obviously a great thing to have. Three-four guys bowling 140-plus, maybe couple of them going up to 150-plus as well. Feels good as a captain.

How aggressive will you be in your first Test as captain?

I am personally going to go with whatever my gut feel is. Whatever I feel. I am going to set fields according to that. So you might see things different from what you usually see. I am someone who goes with what I feel. It might look funny but as long as it’s effective … But the intent is going to be aggressive. That’s something that I’ve played my cricket with, and it’s certainly something that I am going to use in my captaincy as well.

Last India series, you seemed to enjoy the aggressive approach of the Australian team …

I don’t mind a fight. I don’t mind a chat on the field, a bit of banter. It probably makes me more determined I guess. It’s not that that only makes me determined. I am pretty focused to do well all the time. But that’s the spice that I like. Last time around, I enjoyed it. I had to take it for a couple of Tests, after a couple of incidents I found out there’s no other way of playing in Australia. Rather just be myself.

Has it sunk in you are the captain? What does it mean for you?

It is a big moment for me, personally. I have always dreamed to play Test cricket, now I am getting to lead India in a Test match. It wasn’t expected, it has been a series of events that has led to it. It is good that I captained in the last series back home. I have that sort of understanding and comfort factor with the guys. They respect what I want on the field, which is the most important thing. They have sort of helped me feel quite relaxed about it. I haven’t given it too much thought at all. It’s just giving them ideas, and making sure I sort of communicate better with them. That’s the only job I have. It all depends on how well the other ten play along with me. Nothing special about one man who has been given a Test match to captain. It’s all about what 11 guys do, and as long as they stick to our plans, I am going to look good as a captain. That boils down to that.

With inputs from the Wisden.