Mumbai: After a thumping victory over Sri Lanka at home, the Indian cricket team will leave for the South African challenge on Thursday morning with Virat Kohli back at the helm. Understandably, the team’s confidence is sky-high. Kohli said that his men would pose a greater threat than ever in South Africa. Right after Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, the side travelled to South Africa in 2013 for a two-match Test series. Following a close fight in the first Test, the team lead by M.S. Dhoni failed miserably in the second as the home team sewed up the series.
However, Kohli who had a dream run in the longest format in 2017 is hopeful about the outcome this time. “We have done well in Australia and England. In 2015 Sri Lanka had some great tracks especially in the last two Tests where the ball seamed and swung. The preparation has been good and the boys have been on the tour for a long time now,” said Kohli, who would on his maiden SA tour as captain. “Back in 2013, we were all very excited to be touring South Africa. We were looking forward to going there and taking up the challenge. We did really well and now have more experience,” he added.
When asked why India are not able to carry forward their formidable form at home abroad said that the conditions could be equally difficult in India. “If you tell me the home games do not matter in international cricket, I’ll be able to answer the question. When we are playing cricket for our team it’s an honour for us. We know what we want to do,” he said.
For the next couple of years, the Men in Blue will be travelling to different continents to find the magic eleven before the World Cup in 2019. Kohli welcomed the opportunity with both hands. “I’m really happy for the boys as they can walk around without being hassled. We have missed that for a long time now. We just need to connect with life on these tours. Cricket will take care of itself.” he said.
No wedding hangover
The skipper took a break from cricket for his wedding, missing the ODIs and the T20Is against Sri Lanka. Bu he said cricket was always on the back of his mind. “It wasn’t difficult to switch on at all. I was out for something more important that will remain very special for both of us. Cricket is in my blood, like it is for every other team member. Getting back to my profession is not difficult. It’s not that I have not done anything for the past three weeks. I have been training and preparing to play in South Africa. Somewhere at the back of your mind you are always thinking that something important is coming up. You are mentally prepared,” Kohli added.
Kohli excited about Shaw
Kohli, who was to meet India U-19 skipper Prithvi Shaw and the boys before the Rahul Dravid-coached side leave abroad, said he was excited about the Mumbai youngster. “I will meet them now. Rahul bhai had spoken to me and asked me to speak with them before the team (Under-19) leaves for New Zealand. So, even I am excited about Prithvi. We have heard a lot about him and Ravi bhai has also told us a lot about him. He has performed well in First Class cricket which is not a normal thing. It is very rare. He is promoted to lead the side which has players who played Under-19 before him. So, he has a special ability,” said Kohli.
Prithvi, meanwhile, said that he and his team are looking at the Under-19 World Cup as a “great opportunity”. “I think it’s a great opportunity for all of us. The hard work that we have been putting in for the last three years, this will help us well. “As a captain, I just want to lead the team properly. All of us know our responsibilities. Many of us have played First Class and List A,” said Shaw....