Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri speak in final press conference before England tour
Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri speaking in the press conference
Indian captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri sounded confident of having a good series in England, scheduled to begin on July 3rd, 2018. Kohli and Shastri spoke to the media in the press conference earlier today, the last one scheduled before the team leaves for Ireland, where they will play two T20Is on 27th and 29th June, before the England tour begins.
Speaking to the media, Ravi Shastri said that the Indians had a considerable amount of time to adapt to the conditions before they play the five-match Test series on August 1. Prior to the tests, India are playing 3 T20Is and 3 ODIs against the same opposition. Shastri said playing the shorter formats first will be "ideal" preparation for them, giving them a month to acclimatize to the conditions, and Kohli added that by the time they play the Tests, they will be "so comfortable that we won't even feel like we'll be playing an away series".
"The last time we played, we felt that collectively as a team we didn't perform consistently in all three skills," Kohli was quoted as saying. "Because of that, the batsmen feel the extra pressure, or the bowlers feel the pressure because they feel batsmen aren't doing enough. But when both click together and whether it's swinging or seaming, bounce or turn, if you have momentum, any conditions feel favourable and if you don't have the momentum, flat pitches may also feel tough. But yes, the conditions are going to be different, we will have to respect that. By the time the Tests come, we'll be so comfortable that we won't even feel like we'll be playing an away series. So once you spend time there, you get comfortable and that's the biggest factor. If you are at ease mentally, it will show in your performances."
It is a relief to fans and loyalists all over the country as both the Indian coach and captain effused confidence in their team's ability to do well in England.
If there is one thing that captain Kohli felt a bit negative as his team prepared for the incoming season, it would be all the talk about India's terrible last tour to England has been over the top, and about the fact that people did not seem to move on from there. "I think a lot of people have held on to the last tour for too long," Kohli said. "My thinking is very different. When I go on a tour, I literally am looking forward to enjoying the country, am not even thinking of the cricket. I know if I'm in a good zone, I will play well. If I think like how people are thinking on the outside, then things don't happen.
"For us as a team, this is a very exciting time. After what happened in South Africa, we're actually looking forward to playing more difficult Test cricket. That I feel is the best thing that can happen," Kohli opined.
The yo-yo test was also a subject of prime discussion. "You have a certain ability, but if you're fit then that same ability gets enhanced," Shastri added, speaking about the importance of the slightly-controversial move to include the yo-yo in BCCI's team-selection criteria. "And that's why we emphasize on it. And whoever thinks it's a one-off, he's sadly mistaken. He can take a walk. The philosophy is simple. You pass, you play. You fail, you sit. The captain leads from the front, the selectors are on the same page, the entire team management is on the same page and the boys have responded extremely well," he added.
If there is one another important topic from the event, it has to be their take on the rule of using two new balls every innings. Virat Kohli expressed that because of the two-new-balls rule, the batsmen find it easier to score in the death overs as the reverse-swing factor is no longer present.
"I think it’s brutal for the bowlers. I have played ODI cricket when there was only one new ball allowed and reverse swing used to be a massive factor in the latter half of the innings, which I think as a batsman was more challenging," Kohli stated. With the English batsmen seemingly on fire in the ongoing series against Australia, the new-balls rule seem like a very relevant factor to discuss, as even the Indian team would bank more on their batting depths to overcome the hosts
Kohli finds himself back in the Indian team having missed out on the Test against Afghanistan due to a neck injury. Speaking about his fitness, Kohli said he's back to full fitness now, and added that the break has done him much good.
"I'm 100% ready. The neck is fine now. I have had good practice. Went through a fitness test as well so the body is feeling fine. I'm actually excited to get back on the field which is a very rare thing when you play so much cricket but I think these sort of breaks really help and mentally they make you fresh and excited to go back on the pitch again," Kohli said.
With India playing a good amount of limited-overs action before the Test series in England, unlike in 2014 when India first played the Tests, Kohli felt that it would be an ideal preparation for the country.
"Preparation, it's ideal. Our focus is on cricket. We don't have to do anything different. We have to play with a match-winning mindset. It's not about individual players, it's about the team."
As both the captain and coach sound confident and with a strong Indian contingent finding their place in the plane to England, one cannot but hope for a fantastic cricketing season up ahead. Hopefully, the series will also serve to be an idea preparation space for the 2019 ICC ODI Cricket World Cup, which is less than a year away from now.