Ahead of the all-important clash with Australia, Virat Kohli had a funny moment when he was asked how he keeps calm under pressure. The talisman then went on to say India can defeat Australia if they play to their potential, while at the same time singling out Steve Smith as the danger man.
In the press conference on the eve of the Australia clash, Indian skipper Kohli was at his best. Kohli started out with expressing relief over the win against Bangladesh. “It was very good to get that win (over Bangladesh). It is very difficult to be consistent in this formant and you need to come to terms with that. Sometimes you need character to get you over the line and that is why our spinners and Hardik (Pandya) were brilliant for us,” he said.
Talking about what went on in the field, he was all praise for his skipper saying, “Experience counts a lot in these situations. He has captained India in such big games and has that self assurance built over a period of time. We all know he is composed and calm. While I was standing at the boundary, there was Ashu bhai (Nehra) to talk to him. He was also very calm at the moment.
“The most staggering part was that he did not throw the ball and was very sure that he could beat the batsman with pace. It was brilliant from him under the circumstances.”
He then talked about the match and put it in context with India’s entire season. “You always want to win convincingly but it is not possible all times. Sometimes you have to adapt well to tough situations like we did in the last two games. If you look at how we have played this season, we have been consistent. We can focus on what we did in Australia and take positives out of it but can’t take anything for granted, it is a virtual quarterfinal. Why we beat them is important to remember rather than thinking only about the result. If we play to our potential, we can beat them again,” added Kohli.
The Indian Test captain replied in jest when he was asked if pooja path or meditation keeps him calm in pressure cooker situations.
“Do I look like a pooja path guy?” he quipped before talking in detail about his early career.
“When I started, a lot about me was wrong. I was the tattoo guy, the one who wore stylish clothes. It is very easy to focus on the negative stuff but I choose not do that. The basic thinking is I want to improve as a cricketer every day. I make sure I do all the hard work and hope it pays off one day,” he explained.
Kohli struck a cautious note ahead of the clash with Australia singling out captain Steve Smith saying it would be important for India to stop him.
“He is a very important player for Australia. The way their batting unit works, someone like Smith gives them solidarity.
He is a very good player and world class player and in these scenarios you always want the big players out,” said Kohli, reiterating that he relishes the challenge of playing against Australia.
Kohli also talked about the pressure of playing in big occasions and said, “One thing I have learnt is that if you play well in semis and finals of the World Cup you become more confident as a player. The occasion (in 2011) was too overwhelming for me. I had seen the Prime Ministers of both countries present at the ground. It is very easy to look at all these and not focus on what you have to do. It is very important to be aware of the moment and celebrate after it is all done.”
He added about the importance of assessing the situation as an individual and as a team before going into a match. “It is very important to assess conditions. We do have meetings on what can be done on different surface. It also depends on individuals, how they want to do about playing on a particular pitch. You need to plan according to your strength. And on game day, too much pre planning doesn’t help.
“Adaptability is key in this competition. It is not like IPL, where you have seven home and away games. It is a big challenge,” he said.
Asked about extreme reactions from fans and whether it bothers him, Kohli said, “There is no point speaking about something you have no control on. We want to win the tournament. We are working as hard as possible.
“Reactions will always be extreme. We don’t focus on these things. You need to draw the line of things you absorb and ignore negatives.
“You don’t think about reaction while facing a cricket ball,” concluded Kohli.