Southampton: A winning start for India is what the Indians fans in Southampton are hoping to see when the Boys in Blue take on South Africa in their opener at the Rose Bowl on Wednesday. The news that most of the South African players are injured has spread far and wide.
As soon as Virat Kohli settled down to address his first official press conference of the World Cup, Gulf News queried as to how it would be to take on an injury-hit South African team who are coming from two successive defeats.
For Kohli, more than taking on South Africa, the important factor for him was that they would start playing since they have been waiting long and other teams have already played a few games. He agreed that injuries are a setback for any team, he believes South Africa are a very talented and dangerous side on their day, and even with the replacements, they will be a very strong side.
WATCH: India skipper Virat Kohli on his team combination
He stressed on the fact that no team should be taken lightly because even if a youngster with the right mindset steps in, he could perform brilliantly on that day. The Indian skipper was referring to how Pakistan walked away with the Champions Trophy in 2017 through a brilliant knock from young Fakhar Zaman, and would not want a repeat of that here.
He insisted they have learnt lessons from their Champions Trophy loss, and his team’s aim would be to play the cricket that they know to play. Kohli also emphatically announced that his team are stronger now.
Being one of the finest batsmen in world cricket, he is aware of the expectations from fans, that they would want him to score a century always. He knows that every time he comes down the stairs and walks out to bat, people will be hoping for a century.
WATCH: Kohli feels World Cup brings a different kind of feelings
“For me, that’s just a part of the process now,” he said. “It’s not something that I don’t want to hear or something that I think people should not tell me because when you do well, people obviously want to see you do well again and again.
“That’s because they want to see the team win. So my focus will be to get my team to win. that will be my goal. And if it takes a hundred runs, 150, 50, 60, 70, 40, whatever it is, I’m ready to do that and that’s the frame of mind I’m going to be in.”
Kohli said that he still gets butterflies in his stomach when he goes out to bat. “The excitement and anticipation, and a bit of nerves is the right combination that I have always had before every game that I play,” he said. “The 2011 (World Cup) or, 2015, I had similar kind of butterflies in my stomach.”
Would the Indian skipper consider this as his toughest assignment to date? He candidly noted that “considering the length of the tournament and the format of the tournament, it will be tough for any captain, including myself, to play nine games.”
Given that every team would be playing every side once, it is all about how one is able to think on his feet and adapt quickly; and that would be a big challenge, he pointed out.