Virat Kohli termed "handling the pressure and maintaining the intensity" as the prime requisites if his side has to have a successful campaign at the World Cup ahead of Team India's departure to the English isles. The Indian captain, who has previously featured in two World Cups- 2011 & 2015- stressed that it will be the most challenging World Cup of the three that he has played throwing spotlight on the revamped format of the quadrennial event.
Unlike the previous World Cups where the teams were divided into two groups, the ICC went back to the round-robin format used in the 1992-event where each side will play each other once with the top-4 qualifying for the semi-finals.
"Personally, I think this is probably the most challenging World Cup of all the three that I've been a part of, because of the format," he said on Tuesday (May 21). "Everyone has to be at their best intensity from the first match onward and we don't have any room for complacency. That's why it's the World Cup, that's why it's the most important tournament in the world. We expect that kind of pressure from the first second. We're not even going to let ourselves think that maybe the first week onward we'll get into it."
A lot has been said by ex-cricketers and pundits about the "English conditions" in the World Cup but Kohli, rightly played down the talk and asserted that England [in white-ball cricket] or the ICC events do not provide the same geographical challenge like Test cricket. Kohli stressed on the fact that it is the handling of pressure and not the conditions as such, that will be the key to any sides' success in the World Cup.
"White-ball cricket, playing in England, playing an ICC tournament - the conditions are not that different or that difficult I would say, compared to Test cricket. Handling the Pressure is the most important thing in the World Cup, and not necessarily the conditions," Kohli said.
"Secondly, all the bowlers in the squad, even during the IPL they were bowling themselves to be in the zone for 50-over cricket. And we saw the guys bowling. No one looked tired or fatigued after bowling four overs. They were fresh. The ultimate goal is to be fit for the 50-over format and not let their fitness come down and that was communicated before the IPL," he asserted.
Not too fussed about Kuldeep's form
The Indian captain was emphatic in his praise for Kuldeep Yadav, terming his as one of the pillars of the bowling unit, and wasn't really fussed about the chinaman's lean patch in the recently concluded IPL.
"Someone like Kuldeep, it is important to see a period where things don't go your way also. We are glad it happened during the IPL rather than happening during the World Cup. So Kuldeep has time to reflect, correct things and come into the World Cup even stronger. We know the kind of skill set he possesses along with (Yuzvendra) Chahal. They are really two pillars of our bowling line-up," Kohli said.
On Maintaining the intensity across 46 days
The Cricket World Cup will be a grueling affair with each side playing at least nine games across the length and breadth of England and Wales. Skipper Virat Kohli acknowledged that maintaining the intensity will be the main challenge. The Indian captain drew a parallel with the leading Soccer clubs for inspiration.
"This is the challenge," Kohli said on maintaining intensity. "If you look at all the top-class clubs in the world, like in football, they maintain their intensity for three-four months in the Premier League, or in the La Liga. So if we get on a roll and if we maintain consistency then we should be able to do it for the length of the tournament.
"The good thing is that every game has a decent gap between each other. From that point of view, I don't think that the players will burn out even if we have intense games. We will always have time to regroup and go for the next. So the best thing is that we'll have four tough games straight up and that will set the tone nicely for us." the Indian skipper concluded.
Team India will play two warm-up fixtures against New Zealand [May 25th] and Bangladesh [May 28th] before launching their World Cup campaign against South Africa on June 5 at Southampton.