India vs Sri Lanka: Virat Kohli says team needs to bat deep, find fearless match-winners who can fire in tense situations

India have often been described as a top-heavy team with the team relying on big contributions from either skipper himself or his deputy Rohit Sharma

Press Trust of India, Jan 04, 2020 18:05:29 IST

Guwahati: India captain Virat Kohli on Saturday said it will be tough for India to win ICC events unless the middle-order steps up and delivers in pressure situations if the top-order has a rare failure.

India last won an ICC event back in 2013 (Champions Trophy), and have often been described as a top-heavy team with the team relying on big contributions from either skipper himself or his deputy Rohit Sharma.

The focus this year on T20 World Cup and Kohli, in his first media interaction of the year, conveyed his expectations from his fellow teammates.

India vs Sri Lanka: Virat Kohli says team needs to bat deep, find fearless match-winners who can fire in tense situations

Indian cricket team during the recently concluded T20I series against the West Indies. AP

"We need guys who are ready till Nos six and seven to win you games. It can't be dependent on two guys or three guys in the batting line-up. You know, that's not how you win ICC tournaments," said Kohli ahead of T20I series opener against Sri Lanka.

"So that's our main focus, to reveal situations to guys and expect them to come into their own and become those fearless match-winners that we should have going into a big tournament."

Shreyas Iyer has delivered ever since his comeback but has not been tested enough in tense situations. Rishabh Pant, on the other hand, has been criticised for not being consistent enough.

"These next few series are going to be very exciting to see who stands up in pressure situations, how they react when may be Rohit or me or KL or Shikhar at the top have not fired."

Similarly, with the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Deepak Chahar injured and Mohammed Shami rested, this series will give an opportunity to the likes of Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur to make their selection case for the T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November.

"I think because the tournament is in Australia, you will need these many options and back-ups ready to be able to take firstly your strongest XI or strongest squad and then have those back-ups in place, who also can come and do the job."

"It's good that we identify five or six guys and it will be prioritized based on you know who goes and then back-ups will be in place. Also with fast bowlers, we know small niggles can happen every now and then. So yeah, we're pretty sorted in that regard not worried at all."

At the top, Kohli, however, conceded that he will be in a difficult position once Rohit Sharma returns after being rested for this series.

"As far as the series is concerned, it's pretty straightforward. Both of them will start (Dhawan and Rahul). But when Rohit comes back, you know, it's going to be a difficult thing to address because Shikhar has been an experienced player but KL is playing so well.

"So I think we'll have to decide what is the best combination that we can go with and what is the best playing XI to take the field," he concluded.

Asked what he has in mind for the team in the new year, Kohli had plenty to say.

"We have put the team on the right track in terms of being the team that everyone wants to be across formats. I think it is a very exciting position to be in. And that is something that we want to continue, keep the standards of the cricket that we've played as high as we have in the past couple of years."

Kohli said there's a cultural change in Indian cricket which is about playing for the team and not thinking about individual performances. He also spoke on the pep talk he gave to the players before their first practise session of the new year.

"I think we get involved in the rat race to an extent where we can go into our individual cocoons a lot of the times and that can hamper the team at an important stage.

"From a very young age, we are always focused on what we do as individuals. Even when we came back from a game, we were invariably asked, what did you do rather than did the team win?"

"So I think that's a mindset change that I see that happening in the last three years at a very big level where they started to appreciate small performances of guys who might have taken a catch or a great run-out in the game and they turned the whole game.

In the recent past, there has been a lot of talk about the talented Rishabh Pant's reckless batting and poor wicketkeeping even but the Delhi 21-year-old remains to have firm backing from his team.

"If someone you feel is going into a shell, pull that guy out saying, don't worry about it, just focus on the team, you'll be fine. So I think these things are very important to address and speak about every now and then. Because as a sportsman, we can tend to take a lot of pressure in our own performances," he added.

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Updated Date: Jan 04, 2020 18:05:29 IST

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 5046 120
2 Australia 4320 108
3 New Zealand 3449 105
4 South Africa 3177 102
5 England 4593 102
6 Sri Lanka 3935 92
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6745 125
2 India 7748 121
3 New Zealand 4837 112
4 South Africa 5193 110
5 Australia 5854 110
6 Pakistan 5019 98
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 8366 270
2 Australia 6986 269
3 England 5568 265
4 South Africa 4720 262
5 India 10645 260
6 New Zealand 6056 252