India have ability, belief to dominate world cricket: Kohli
Kanpur: Indian Test captain Virat Kohli asserted on Wednesday that his team has the ability and self-belief to upstage New Zealand in the upcoming home series and become the top ranked team in the longest version of the game.
India will be targeting the top spot in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) Test rankings when they host the Kiwis in the first match of the three-Test series at the Green Park Stadium here from Thursday. It will also be the 500th Test for India, who made their debut as a Test cricket playing nation against England in 1932.
“More often than not, if you are fearless, the results will fall your way because you are willing to take extra risks in the course of the game. We believe we certainly have what it takes to be the best team in the world. We definitely believe that,” Kohli told the media here on Wednesday.
“One area we have tapped into is belief. It’s something that a lot of young players can lack coming into international cricket. There can be a lot of insecurities: ‘Whether I’ll play in the next game or whether my position is secure or not.’ It’s all about getting them rid of that feeling. When you step on to the pitch, you need to tell yourself, ‘I own this position for the next eight-ten years in Test cricket for India.’
“That’s the only way you can go out there, be confident and express yourself. Express how good you are, and that’s what this team has done. That’s why we’ve been able to win seven-odd Test matches in the last 13 or 14 that we played. (It’s) because we wanted to go out there and play bold cricket and take some risks,” he added.
“I certainly feel that this team has what it takes to be the best.”
Kohli also believes that the current bunch of Indian players have the potential to go on and dominate world cricket if they could find more consistency in their performances. “What it requires is sustained concentration, attention to detail, practising the same way every day. You know, doing boring things,” he said.
“At this level you need to be boring if you want to be successful. As simple as that. Your training, your practice, the way you prepare for games should not change. Whoever can do that for a sustained period of time will obviously be a very good side, and this team has the potential to do that.”
The Indian batsmen had struggled against quality bowling in their last home series against South Africa. Although they managed to beat the Proteas 3-0, the Indian top order batsmen had been troubled by the South African spinners and had to be bailed out by the lower order on several occasions.
Kohli admitted that the hosts need to sort out their technical issues and improve their physical fitness in order to perform well under pressure.
“I think what’s really important is to find the balance between being positive and being solid at the same time. If someone is bowling a good spell you want to pay respect to the bowler, but not so much that you get under pressure. You don’t want to defend too much and eventually feel like, ‘I could have attacked more,’ when you get out. So it’s a right balance of putting the bowler under pressure and at the same time respecting the good balls that he bowls.
“And that requires a lot of concentration. We have to be more watchful and more focussed throughout the day. There is no room for complacency; you cannot relax at any stage. In Test cricket, half an hour of bad decision-making can cost you the whole Test. So that’s one thing that we have worked on,” the 27-year-old said.
“That’s why we work on our fitness levels so that the body can support what we want to do. To bat through the whole day, or two days, you need a fit physique and that’s what the boys have been working on and it’s been going really good.
“That has certainly improved our focus levels and we have been able to play out difficult situations in the best way possible. So it’s a combination of a lot of things, but I think the key is to maintain that balance between being positive and at the same time, being solid and playing through a difficult situation for the team,” he added.
“Now we are putting in more efforts to bat against the spinners longer. We are practicing the little things. We are covering all bases, because if you want to be a champion side, you don’t want to give the opposition any window to get into the game and that’s an area that needs to be worked on through the course of this season. The good thing is that we are playing a lot of Test cricket.”