Virat Kohli excited about Sri Lanka tour, says he won't change his approach as batsman
Virat Kohli is set to lead the Indian team in his first full-fledged series as Test skipper and is excited about the challenge facing his young side. Speaking to bcci.tv, Kohli also opened up on his decision to play for India A and has picked the players he believes will make a big impact in Sri Lanka.
"It's basically my first full assignment as Test captain. In Bangladesh it was a one odd Test match it wasn't a full-fledged series. So it will be a new challenge for me and the whole team because we have such a young squad and so many new players looking to build their careers," he said.
"It is an exciting challenge to start together as a new unit. It is exciting for me and as a team. Everyone is very happy and putting in all the effort required to do well in Test cricket. I am certain if we prepare well and have the right kind of vision, we will do really well in Sri Lanka. I am confident about the whole team and also hope that I am able to do the job given by the BCCI.”
The 26-year-old also revealed that he has no intention to curb down his aggressiveness, both as captain and as a batsman, that has received flak from some quarters.
"As a batsman I have always been responsible with the way I play my cricket and it comes from wanting to win the game for the team every time I play. So I don't think I need to change too much in that aspect. I think that is one of the major reasons that the board thought that I could be the man to take up responsibility for the team," Kohli said.
It all boils down to how you play your cricket eventually and that's the way I have always played my cricket, be it on the field, be it the way I bat, I always give my 100%. Putting in that extra effort in batting I don't think is required because I have always played in a responsible way for the team. And I will continue to do that till the time I play for my country," he asserted.
Kohli opens up on decision to play for India A
India’s Test skipper raised eyebrows when he announced that he will be playing for India A under Cheteshwar Pujara in their 2nd four-day match against Australia. He didn’t fare well though making scores of 16 and 45 as the hosts were crushed by the Aussies who won the match by 10 wickets thereby clinching the series 1-0. (Read the match report here.)
Kohli opened up on the reasons behind the strange move. He said: “I wanted some kind of momentum going into the Sri Lanka tour. We have had a decent break, I have had three weeks off."
"I have had lots of time off the game, which was required to get mentally fresh and now with a week of training going into this India A game and a week or two of training after that as well, I think it will be the best preparation for me as far as preparing for the Sri Lanka tour is concerned, so that was the whole idea."
The Indian skipper also added that the presence of Rahul Dravid as coach of the team was a crucial factor.
"It's always nice to be around great players like Rahul Dravid because just their presence is so calming and so reassuring and even if you don't want to speak about the game. Just having them around makes you feel good about your own cricket because just looking at them you can learn so much more," Kohli said.
"I think being around him is always a good feeling. I have played a lot of games with him as well. He is a very nice and genuine person. It is always nice to talk to him about the game and otherwise as well," he added.
Kohli banking on Vijay and Rahane for Sri Lankan tour
Kohli picked out Murali Vijay and Ajinkya Rahane as the players who could make a big impact in Sri Lanka.
"He (Murali Vijay) has always been a very very solid opener for India. Everyone has a few hiccups in his career, all of us out involved in that bracket and all of us have gone through it. The best thing about him is that he is mentally very strong. Has a lot of patience, a very solid character and is very sure of himself and of his game," he said.
"In Test matches he has been a very solid opener for us, especially after the pair of Sehwag and Gambhir that we had, he is the one who has given us lot of stability at the top of the order," he added.
He had words of praise for Ajinkya Rahane, who captained a young Indian side in their recent tour of Zimbabwe.
"I really like Ajinkya (Rahane) as a batsman and as a fielder as well in the team. Really nice to have a guy who has so much energy and puts in 100 percent every time he steps on the field, every ball that he plays, every ball that he fields, he is always there for the team."
"He is willing to do anything for the team requires of him and he is one guy who I feel will be a very important factor as far as Team India doing well in Test cricket is concerned, because he brings that solidarity in the middle order, coming straight after me."
Bowlers performances key to doing well
The Indian skipper feels both the spinners along with the fast bowlers have to contribute big time if India are to come away with victory in the Test series.
"We have a lot of experience with the spin department. (Ravichandran) Ashwin has been wonderful for us. Harbhajan Singh has been a match-winner for India in Test matches and one-day cricket. So it's great to have his vision, his ideas and his confidence back into the team.”
Kohli also hinted that leg-spinner Amit Mishra, who has been included in the national team for the first time since 2011, could be given a chance.
“He (Mishra) is bowling really well for the last one year or so and that is the reason why we wanted him in the team as well," he said before turning his attention to the Indian pacers.
"I think not just the spinners but the fast bowlers will also play a massive role in Sri Lanka. I think with the ball reversing later on, the fast bowlers have been the ones who have come in and given those crucial breakthroughs for the Test match to be won," he said.