Handling pressure most important: Virat Kohli ahead of World Cup

Mumbai (Maharashtra): Handling pressure is the most important thing in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup rather than the conditions, India captain Virat Kohli said on Tuesday, a day before the Men in Blue leave for the tournament.
“The team that stays more focussed and more balanced is the team that will go a long way in the tournament.

Handling pressure is the most important thing in the World Cup, and not necessarily the conditions. The only expectation we’ve is to play really good cricket and that’s been our focus. That’s why results have followed in the last two-three years,” Kohli said at a press conference.

“We are going into the World Cup as a balanced and strong side. You saw in the IPL as well. All the players in the squad are in great form and playing really well. I think from that point of view, we just expect ourselves to play the best cricket we can. We’ll focus on the process to be able to do that. That’s the only expectation I think everyone has from the team,” he said.

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Reflecting on what he expects from the pitches, Kohli said since it is summer in the UK, the conditions will be nice. He further added, “In ICC tournaments, pitches are going to be very good. We expect high scoring games but a bilateral series as compared to the World Cup is completely different. I won’t say it will be low-scoring games. But in 260-270 kind of games if teams get those totals and defend it successfully (it will be great) because of the pressure factor. We expect all sort of scenarios in the World Cup. But yes, there will be quite a few high-scoring games as well looking at the conditions.”

When asked about spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who was dropped from Kolkata Knight Riders’ playing XI after getting smacked for 27 runs in one over by Royal Challengers Bangalore’s Moeen Ali, the India captain said, “Someone like Kuldeep, it is important to see a period where things don’t go your way also. We are glad it happened during the IPL rather than happening during the World Cup. So Kuldeep has time to reflect, correct things and come into the World Cup even stronger. We know the kind of skill set he possesses along with (Yuzvender) Chahal. They are really two pillars of our bowling line-up.”

“All the bowlers who are in the squad even during the Indian Premier League (IPL) they have been preparing themselves to be in that zone of playing the 50-over cricket. If you saw all the guys bowling, no one looked tired or fatigue after bowling four overs. They were very fresh. So the mindset or the ultimate goal at the back of their minds was always to be fit for the 50-over format. They didn’t let fitness come down and that was communicated before the IPL started,” Kohli said at the pre-departure presser.

In the World Cup, which will be held from May 30 to July 14, all the teams will face each other in a Round Robin format. Calling it the most challenging World Cup, Kohli said, “It’s the most challenging one of all three that I’ve been part of because of the format. Looking at the strength of all the sides as well. If you look at Afghanistan from 2015 to now, they are completely different side. Any team can upset anyone on their given day. That’s one thing we have in our mind.”

“We aren’t worried about anyone’s headspace. Everyone is very confident. They are enjoying their cricket. And that’s the only thing you require from them. The team that does well in the World Cup will be the one which can handle the pressure well and try and be as normal as possible. Every game you play, you have to play to the best of your potential because it’s not a group stage anymore it’s playing everyone once. It will be a completely different challenge which every team will have to adapt,” he said.

India will play against New Zealand and Bangladesh on May 25 and 28, respectively, in the warm-up games before opening its World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5 at the Hampshire Bowl, Southampton.


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