Can't tell people not to talk about me: Kohli

Can't tell people not to talk about me: Kohli

ALL EYES ON HIM: Indian captain Virat Kohli at the Adelaide Oval in Adelaide on Wednesday. AFP

Virat Kohli seems to be the flavour of Australia’s cricketing summer. The right-hander is all over media here for more than one reason – his in-your-face attitude, his stature as world’s best batsman at the moment and his magnificent record against Australia in Australia. The Indian skipper, during his pre-match press conference here on Wednesday, addressed a number of topics, ranging from media’s obsession with him to the depleted Australian side to his experienced bowling group and lessons learnt from previous series. Here is full text of the media meet.

What do you have to say about Australian media’s obsession with Virat Kohli? For them there’s nobody beyond you.

This is something I don’t believe in at all. Whatever batsmen we have, all of them have so much ability that every one of them can single-handedly turn any game. This is something I believe 120 percent, and even they have faith in themselves. On the outside what people think of it, we cannot control. I cannot tell people to not to talk about it or write about it. Our work is to go and perform on the field. If I can contribute, I will, if someone else is in a position to contribute, then he will. Basically, the common aim is to perform for the Indian team. What anyone else write and why they write so, we cannot say, because we haven’t written it. We can only focus on cricket and I don’t care about all these things.                

Post Cape Town ball-tampering fiasco and without some of the key batsmen, do you think Australia are vulnerable now?

I don’t think personally any Australian side is vulnerable at home. You definitely can’t take any side for granted and more so Australia in Australia because regardless of what happened, skill level is still there. So, you have to respect that. At the end of the day, however you talk or behave in a certain manner, it’s your skill level that comes (into play) and they certainly have the skill to still dominate at home and we will have to be at our best to be very competitive and get the results that we want here. We are definitely not taking anything for granted, we are not even expecting them to play in a certain manner. We just want to focus on our skills and things that we need to do right because as a side we are looking to correct things that haven’t gone right for us in the last two tours that we had been on. So, our focus is purely on our team.

Do you think you have figured out the bowling group that you wanted and how different is it from the previous series here?

I think it’s pretty different from what we had when we came here last time. They are more experienced, and the guys are fitter than they were when they came here last time. I think the key in Australia is to keep bowling in the right areas for longer periods of time and the conditions also become hard because it can get really hot and the pitches can be flat purely because of the Kookaburra ball not doing much after 20-odd overs, till it reverses around 45-50 (overs). That middle phase is very crucial. We have identified those things and the guys themselves feel that they are at the peak of their skill-level at the moment. They are looking forward to this challenge, they don’t want to be in a situation where we are looking for ideal bowling conditions or ideal batting conditions. So, the bowlers are in a mindset that whatever the situation might be, they are looking forward to perform in those conditions and doing what the team wants at the end of the day. No one is going out there gunning for a six-wicket haul for himself, if it means bowling eight good overs in a spot and getting a wicket for the team, they are ready to do that. So, I think that mindset is very crucial, and that feedback is coming from the bowlers themselves. It’s not been told to them, they only are talking about it which I think is a very positive sign.

 Are you happy to be back in Adelaide?

Yeah, I love coming to this ground, the city in general. I really enjoy the city, I don’t know what the connection is, but I just feel really good here. Not to say that the performances are always guaranteed in a certain place but yeah, coming to Adelaide I feel different from places that I have gone in the world. It happens to every cricketer, they have a favourite ground away from home. For me Adelaide has always been special, because I scored my first Test ton here so, from then on, the connection started. Yeah, it’s a great place to play cricket in general; the stadium has been redone, the pitch has always been good… So, it’s about which team plays better, it’s been that kind of pitch. There are no-givens on the Adelaide pitch. I have enjoyed my cricket here.

How much the familiarity of players with Australia will help India going into the series?

It certainly will help the fact that we have played quite a few Test matches here before and scored runs. So I think it’s even more important to know that you have performed in a place and you know how to get runs there. It’s all about remembering those good things that we did and applying it here. I know England and South Africa were tougher, (but) Australia can be a great place to bat if the batsmen apply themselves well. But it takes character, it takes grinding out tough situations because, as I said, Australian team has got great skills, specially their bowling attack is really strong. So, they will challenge us a lot more. We will just have to ride that particular phase and then capitalise on sessions that go our way. So, I think as batsmen we are looking at those opportunities purely because we need to step up as a batting unit and we understand that. The bowlers are in great form as we all know, it’s just the collective performance that needs to go on a regular basis. It should not be one-odd Test match. So, that’s a challenge we are looking forward to.

How do you balance the bowling attack in the absence of an all-rounder?

It obviously has an impact. I mean every side would like to have a fast-bowling all-rounder which we don’t have right now with Hardik (Pandya) injured. That obviously is a great luxury to have for any side. Again, the workload on guys, who will play in the absence of an all-rounder, will be high but that’s something that has already been discussed. They should look forward to that and not think of it as a burden or something which is going to be tough. Because at international level things are tough. So, we will just have to embrace that and make something out of the resources that we have at present and try to put in the performances that the team expects from the players. Losing Hardik is obviously a bit of an issue, (but) I don’t see it as a major one because in Australia you still have to bowl really well even if you are an all-rounder because to contain the batsmen is always a challenge.

How crucial is a good start to the series?

Yes, for sure. We are not looking to start tentatively. We all want to express ourselves, go out there and be positive. (I am) Not meaning that we are going to play rash shots and we are going to be all over the place with the ball but it’s just in our heads wanting to bring our A game in the first match itself and then try and lay a good foundation for us and capitalise on that as the series goes on. We don’t wait to figure out what the condition of the pitch is going to be, we got to read it really early and alter our games accordingly which I think we failed to do in the last tours (SA and England). When we have done it, we have won games but we will have to do it for longer periods to be able to win series which is our goal. We don’t want to be a side that plays exciting cricket in one Test match. We want to be a consistent side and for that we need to adapt quicker than we have in the past.

How do you plan to approach Nathan Lyon?

We have to be sort of positive against him because he is such a good bowler in these conditions. He understands the pace of the wicket, the bounce it’s going to provide him and the where the fielder should be. He hits the bat harder and quicker than any other spinner that I have faced in Australia. Look, you have to be at your best against guys like Nathan and their bowling attack. We definitely aren’t going to think too much about anyone but we are also not going to be tentative against anyone. We just have to back our game and show that we are confident of our skill sets and guys have to find ways to play different bowlers accordingly. Some might want to sweep an off-spinner and some might not. So, we just have to figure out our game plans, as I said, adapt quickly, see how the wicket is behaving and find a way to score runs. We just don’t want to stand there and do nothing. You got to score runs if you want to win Test matches.

Post-Cape Town, do you expect this Australian side to play differently to sides that you played in the past?

I don’t think, personally, any team should be totally negative after something like that happens (ball-tampering fallout). I don’t see stuff happening which has happened in the past where both teams have crossed the line. But still it’s a competitive sport at the end of the day, it’s international cricket. We don’t expect guys to just come, bowl and walk back. Obviously, there are going to be times when you have to put the batsmen under pressure. Not necessarily crossing the line, but just get into their heads which you expect from any side in the world, not just Australia. It’s going to be there, but it’s not going to happen at the level which has happened in the past, you know, where both teams have lost control. But the competitiveness will be there because you eventually want to get the guys out. If the situation is not going your way against the important guy in the opposition, you will go hard at that person; be it your body language or putting in a word or two. But I don’t see anything radical happening because the skill-set is high and we necessarily wouldn’t need to get into anything but at times when situations are difficult you do find ways to upset the rhythm. I think a bit of banter there isn’t harmful at all.