Nagpur: Their amazing run of form in the shortest format of the game winning 10 out of their 11 matches has made MS Dhoni and his troops hot favourites when they take on a spirited New Zealand side, here in the campaign opener of the ICC World T20 on Tuesday.
However, even though the confidence is running high in the dressing room, in-form batsman Virat Kohli feels the global tournament will be a tougher contest and the boys cannot get carried away by success.
“It’s a big event and the whole feel and vibe is different from a bilateral series. We all have experienced that before so it’s nothing new. I think the key is to learn from the past where calmness is required in big tournaments because you can get carried away or get over excited,” Kohli said during the pre-match conference on Monday.
“Focus on skills that need to be executed on the field. There can be a lot of focus shifting in terms of watching other oppositions play on rest days. It’s very important to stay away from all those things, focus on what team is doing and not focus on whether someone is going to lose or win for your team to go through. People don’t understand, once you get involved watching a game, you get so involved that you forget to do what you have to do for your preparations,” he added.
New Zealand, who currently are going through a transition period after the departure of veteran Brendon McCullum will want to perform better in ICC tournaments having won just 11 matches in five editions. Kohli, who agreed that the Asia Cup was a good preparation, wishes to limit the concentration to his own team.
The opposition do not matter for us so much at this stage. Obviously you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition players but its more to do with the way we have played and continue the same way, probably try to execute the same things we have done which has brought us success,” he said.
The Indian batting mainstay also pointed out that clinching the trophy in the ICC World Cup in 2011 gives the ‘Men in Blue’ a further boost going into the World T20 but the real challenge here according to Kohli is how a player can manage himself off the field.
“We got over that hurdle in the 50-over format which was a major hurdle honestly. For me, first time to be the youngest in the team and experience that kind of pressure, obviously I didn’t feel it. But I saw senior players, the way people expect things out of them and everywhere they would get advice, suggestions, expectations and prayers. You have to soak all of that in.
“On the field is probably safest and the quietest place for you, specially when playing at home. The field is actually a place where you release pressure in big tournaments. That requires a collective effort of everyone. No one can drift away,” Kohli was prompt and crisp with the reply.
Virat Kohli speaks ahead of the team’s first game against New Zealand at Nagpur #WT20
Posted by Indian Cricket Team on Monday, March 14, 2016
Winning the first match will set the right momentum for his side and Kohli, who is happy with the ‘favourites’ tag understands that both teams are on a level-playing field and plan to take each game as it comes.
“If you know the home conditions well, and you’re playing good cricket, people will expect you to go a long way. Our favourites are obviously us. If we’re not, then we won’t have any chance to progress.
“It’s important that we start on a positive note, and maintain that momentum. We have done that in the last 11-12 games, and that’s why we have been able to perform so consistently. We’ll try and not do anything different in this tournament. That will be our strength,” Kohli quipped.