Sri Lanka in India

‘Regardless of the opposition, we want to be consistent’: Kohli not taking Sri Lanka lightly

The India captain said his team does not expect any favours from playing conditions ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka.

India captain Virat Kohli has his sights set on next month’s tour of South Africa, stating his team does not expect any favours from the conditions they are playing in. Before playing the mighty Proteas in their own backyard, India play Sri Lanka for three Tests, three One-day Internationals and as many Twenty20 Internationals.

“We want to build our games in such a way that we can play anywhere. We don’t want the conditions to suit our playing style. We want to be uncomfortable. We want to embrace being uncomfortable,” Kohli said ahead of the first Test in Kolkata, starting Thursday.

India have been dominant across formats in recent times. Last month, Kohli’s side completed their seventh consecutive bilateral One-day International series win. They also sit on top of the pile in the Test rankings, and are fourteen rating points ahead of South Africa.

Kohli, though, was realistic about his team holding on to the top spot.

“You have to understand that we are not playing all the time. It is exciting for people to talk about it. People are fantasising about it [rankings] more than the players. I doubt that will stay for long because of the transition period between different teams,” he said.

‘Winning most important’

With eyes on South Africa, where, many believe Kohli’s leadership skills will be put to the test. The message the 29-year-old sent was loud and clear: He would play for a win, irrespective of where they play.

“The challenges are different and its something we look forward to. Whatever the conditions we play at, whatever combinations we need to play, we do that accordingly. Keeping in mind that winning is the most important thing and for that everyone is on the same page whether we play in India or away,” he said.

“Regardless of the opposition we play and we want to maintain our consistency as a team and that has worked for us because we do not differentiate in terms of where we are playing, how we are playing, what team we are playing against. We just want to play good cricket as a team,” he added. “It is not that we play bad cricket in India we win”

‘You don’t want the fans going away’

When asked if there was too much cricket being played, Kohli wanted the fans to give their verdict on the matter, “I don’t know that. This analysis has to be done by fans who watch the game because someone watching the game is very different from being involved in the game. For us, there is no rule of complacency or saying that I don’t want to play this game. There is no room for that. We are at our top intensity all the time.”

“This question will be better answered by the fans who watch the game. If there is too much cricket being played or there is a repetition of same series happening or not, we do what we are presented with. This definitely needs to be taken into consideration because you don’t want the fans going away from the game. We have to maintain a balance of how to engage fans and at the same time how to keep players fresh and keep cricket exciting and competitive cricket going throughout the year,” he said.

Kohli had a tongue-in-cheek response when asked if he needed a break from the hectic cricketing calendar, “Why don’t I need rest? Whenever I have needed rest, I have asked for it. I am not a robot. You can slice my skin and check.”

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