The captain of the Indian cricket team Virat Kohli who missed his county stint due to a neck sprain, today addressed the media before leaving for a three-month long tour of England, and said that he is a 100% fit and ready to go. The Indian skipper added that he went through the fitness test ahead of the tour and said that the focus is on the team’s performance. Kohli along with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and other limited overs specialists went through the Yo-Yo Test last week and cleared it.
Asked whether missing the county stint will affect his preparation for England, Kohli said that whatever happened was for the best. He said that it has been four years since India played a Test in England so he wanted to get a better feel for the conditions but being fit mattered more. “I wanted to be 100% fit for the tour and wanted to go there fresh. This thing that happened was the best thing…although not intended but happened in the best way,” he added.
Talking about the problems Indian batsmen face against swing, Kohli said that any batsman around the world is troubled by it. “Swing is a problem for every team, not just for Indians. If the team has momentum then you can do anything,” he said.
Kohli added that he is also excited to see how the two spinners — Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — bowl in the England conditions as they did well in South Africa. “I am excited to see these guys bowl in conditions that may not assist them. That’s what they did in South Africa and even the opposition would be looking forward to it,” Kohli said.
India had lost the first two Tests on South Africa as players blamed lack of preparation. However, it bounced back to win the third and final Test and later won the ODI series comfortably. “After we lost the first two Tests, a lot of people said that we were outplayed. But, we won the third Test and then followed it with a win the ODI series. So, we knew that we were playing good cricket. We are looking forward to playing difficult cricket….even if it is India. That’s how we will really be able to test ourselves,” the 29-year-old batsman said.
Coach Ravi Shastri added that playing the T20Is before Tests on this tour will help his side. “From the boys’ point of view, it is ideal. We will play the first T20Is against Ireland on June 27 and the first Test of the series is on August 1 so the players will get a lot of time to adjust to the conditions,” he said.
Even though two of India’s star players — Mohammed Shami and Ambati Rayudu were dropped from the side as they failed to clear the Yo-Yo test, Shastri made it clear that to represent the national side, players will have to pass it.
“If you are fit, you can enhance your ability on the field. Anyone who thinks that this is a one-off, he can walk-off. The philosophy is simple — you pass the test, you play. You fail the test, you sail. The captain leads from the front, the selectors are on the same page, the management is on the same page and the players have responded well,” he said.
Asked about the preparation for England, Shastri said, “We don’t play the opposition, we play the pitch. Our job is to conquer the pitch. It remains the same where we go, may it be Johannesburg or Wankhede. The boys know their job.”