Kolkata: Skipper Virat Kohli on Wednesday left it to the fans to decide if there has been an overkill of India-Sri Lanka contests in recent years, something that had led to dwindling interest in a cricket crazy nation.
India played an away Test series against islanders in 2015 followed by a short limited overs series at home in 2016 and in the current year are playing them full series across formats on home and away basis.
By the end of the Sri Lanka’s tour of India, the teams would end up playing 18 games against each other in space of 5 months.
Not to forget, India will again travel to Sri Lanka in 2018 to play the Independence Cup T20 tournament. When Kohli was asked whether India vs Sri Lanka battle is losing its sheen, he gave a subtle reply.
"It definitely has to be taken into consideration because you don't want fans going away from the game from watching the game. We have to maintain a balance of how to engage fans and keep players fresh at the same time and keep cricket exciting and keep it competitive through out the year. That point will be discussed in future definitely," Kohli dropped enough hints as to what he felt on the issue during the pre-match conference.
The Indian captain feels that fans are one of the biggest stakeholders in the game and they need to be taken into confidence.
"This needs analysis. It has to be done over a period of time by asking the fans who watch the game. For someone watching the game, it is very different than someone involved playing in the game.
"For us, there's no room for saying that "I don't want to play this game, or you cannot say I don't feel like batting while standing on the crease". There is no room for that because you will get out and the team will lose. we are at our absolute top intensity all the time."
Kohli made it clear that as cricketers they can only play an opposition that faces them but fans do have a choice to watch what they want to.
"It will be better answered by the fans who watch the game if there's too much cricket being played or repetition of same series for us it's about playing cricket for the country and we will do what we are presented with every time a new series comes up."
The immediate assignment may be against Sri Lanka but Kohli has already set his sights on the "difficult" tour of South Africa, where he is looking forward to embracing the "uncomfortable".
"If you can embrace playing in difficult conditions that will be the difference. We want to be uncomfortable, we want to embrace being uncomfortable and that's the most important thing."
"We want to build our games in such a way that we want to look forward to playing anywhere in the world. We just want to play good cricket, that's about it. We don't want to wait for conditions to suit our games," the skipper said with an obvious reference to the South African tour in January.
Indian team has been on a roll for sometime now with most of the Test matches happening at home.
"Right now, we have gone through a good phase where a lot of cricket has been played at home. We certainly believe a lot in ourselves as a team."
However the captain rightly pointed out that a good team needs to win everywhere in the world to be considered as a top notch outfit. The South Africa series starts January 5, with the first Test at Capte Town.
"We want to rather develop our games for difficult conditions. If you want to be the top side in the world for a longer period of time you have to win everywhere. If we had played all this cricket away as well we would have maintained the same intensity and have the same mindset," Kohli said.
While Sri Lanka are not the best international opponent at the moment but Kohli made it clear that there is no dearth of respect for the rivals.
"We feel every match we play is important. Every series is huge. It not like if we lose the series and you guys are going to say nothing to us.
"Winning is the most important thing. For that everyone is on the same page whether we play in India or abroad, regardless of the opposition. We want to maintain our consistency as a team and that has worked for us," he said.
The skipper dropped enough hints that the inform Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul will retain their opening slots.
"Three openers is a situation that has always been a thing. The balance has swung every now and then with one of them missing out. Now that Shikhar and KL Rahul playing well it's very difficult to pick two out of three when all of them are so good, and they have done so well."