Adelaide: Talking tough ahead of the Test series against Australia, stand-in-skipper Virat Kohli said that the team is in the right frame of mind and totally equipped to handle the dangerous Mitchell Johnson.
“I think coming to Australia and playing, it’s more about the mindset rather than getting used to the conditions, because pace and bounce is something which you can get used to. But unless you’re mentally there, there’s no point of any sort of practice,” Kohli said, on the eve of the first two-day warm-up match against Cricket Australia XI.
Kohli also opined that the team is “absolutely” capable of withstanding the threat posed by the pacer Johnson.
“He’s been bowling really well — everyone knows that. Credit to him for doing all that,” Kohli said. “We are equipped enough to tackle him on these pacy and bouncy wickets. I don’t see any good reason why we can’t come up and put up a good fight.
“It’s all about mentally being there. If you can visualise being in that battle and on top, I think you’re going to be able to go out there and execute it. I think the guys in our team have the ability to do it... it’s all about being mentally present.”
Kohli, who led India to the Under-19 World Cup triumph in 2008, said that he has always been comfortable as a leader.
“I love leading the side, I love being captain, I love putting my foot forward and putting in my (views) throughout the game. I don’t see any issues on why I can’t be up to the challenge.
“As long as the team backs me and puts in the performances we want, I think I’m going to look good at the end of the day,” said Kohli.
Responding to Australian pacer Peter Siddle’s jibe that he might find the rowdy crowd and added responsibilities “a bit daunting”, Kohli, who will become India's 32nd Test captain at the start of the four-Test series in Brisbane on December 4, was quick to answer back.
“Well, that’s for me to know and for me to experience,” said the top-order batsman. “I’ve played against him, he’s quite a competitive guy so I’m not surprised there’s already some banter starting from that end... (and) I don’t mind all that,” he added.
Kohli also voiced his concern about his counterpart Michael Clarke’s injury-disrupted lead-up to the first Test. “I’ve heard about Michael Clarke’s hamstring injury. I’m not in a position to comment on that because I don’t know how serious it is… but it’s very unfortunate for a cricketer before a Test series to have that sort of an injury.”
India’s 0-4 Test loss to Australia in 2011-12 season came after five days of match practice, while this tour starts with four days of warm-up games. Kohli, though, just wants to perform in whatever practice is available.
“It should be enough. We don’t have any choice, I guess. We’ve got to do whatever we can with those four days of practice games, and the sessions in between.
“I think Australia is a great place to bat, once you get in. The morning session goes through (well for bowlers). The guys need to realise that and play themselves in. Eventually, I experienced that last time as well. It’s a beautiful place to play cricket as a batsman, it’s a lovely place to be when you’re 30 or 40 and the ball gets a bit old.”
The series opener in Brisbane will be followed by three more Tests in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.