Champions Trophy 2017: Virat Kohli says tournament is qualitatively tougher than World Cup

Mumbai: India skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday conceded that Champions Trophy is qualitatively much more competitive than the World Cup, with top eight teams battling it out in a condensed schedule.

"The competitiveness of the tournament is much higher from the word go. In a World Cup, you still have league games (to get into groove) and may be dominate during the later half, but in Champions Trophy you need to be on top of your game from game one. If you are not, then your chances go down pretty soon," Virat told reporters at the pre-departure media conference.

 Champions Trophy 2017: Virat Kohli says tournament is qualitatively tougher than World Cup

India captain Virat Kohli during a press conference in Mumbai. PTI

India play their first match against arch rivals Pakistan on 4 June in Birmingham but something that the skipper doesn't want his team to put too much weightage to the defending champions tag.

"The first challenge is not to think about the fact that we are defending the title. When we went there last time (to the CT in England in 2013), we just wanted to enjoy as a young unit and we ended up winning the tournament," Kohli said talking about how it went on creating a core which is still intact coming into this tournament.

"It ended up (the 2013 triumph) creating a team which has done so well so far. There are a few changes (in current side) but the mindset is similar -- to go out there and enjoy our cricket. In Tests, we have been able to reach the top with that mindset -- the hunger to win and we want it across all formats."

Kohli expects that the two senior pros -- former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and stylish Yuvraj Singh will go out there and express themselves with a free mindset.

"They (Dhoni and Yuvi) have so much experience and if they are given freedom to play their game in the middle-order, they know the most in the team how to build or win a match or how to get team out of difficult situations," the skipper said.

"They are our strongest pillars and more they will be in good mindset, it will benefit the team," he added.

"During the last Champions Trophy -- one of the two takeaways for us was the opening partnership. Rohit and Shikhar were a revelation as an opening pair. It was great thing for fans and the team. It was a massive factor in us winning the Champions Trophy.

"Secondly, Ash (Ravichandra) and (Ravindra Jadeja) were on top of their game and the way the fast bowlers bowled and the way we fielded, we were the best fielding side in the tournament back then. We would like to stick to same strengths and we believe that these are the factors which determine how you play in conditions like England," he explained.

Someone who believes in aggressive brand of cricket, Kohli doesn't mind if his team show their ruthless streak in title defence.

"Ruthlessness is something that we definitely speak about all the time. Even if we close a (Test) series off, we want to close it without losing a game or drawing a game, if possible. We go in with that kind of mindset and that goes a long way in a tournament like this. If we think about the games in that manner, I think you will get the results more often than not," he said.

For India's best batsman, T20 and ODIs shouldn't be mixed as only benefit is the game time irrespective of the format.

"I don't think you can have too much similarity in both formats (T20 and ODI) but I think from getting some game time, from that point of view. It helps a lot of people to stay in the zone of being match ready, to say the least.

"It is different for different people, some people cannot connect the two formats at all, some people take bits and pieces and put into place in all three formats."

"IPL being a high competitive tournament allows you to be in that zone, when you play against world class players from all the teams, it could be the most competitive sort of game you could be part of before something like Champions Trophy," Kohli signed off.

Updated Date: May 24, 2017 19:53:15 IST