Kolkata: Skipper Virat Kohli today left it to the fans to decide if there has been an overkill of India-Sri Lanka contest in recent years, something that had led to dwindling interests in a cricket crazy nation. India played an away Test series against islanders in 2015followed by a short limited overs series at home in 2016 andin the current year are playing them full series across formats on home and away basis. Not to forget, India will again travel to Sri Lanka in2018 to play the Independence Cup T20 tournament.
When Kohli was asked whether India vs Sri Lanka battle islosing its sheen, he gave a subtle reply. “It definitely has to be taken into consideration becauseyou don’t want fans going away from the game from watching thegame. We have to maintain a balance of how to engage fans andkeep players fresh at the same time and keep cricket excitingand keep it competitive through out the year. That point willbe discussed in future definitely,” Kohli dropped enough hintsas to what he felt on the issue during the pre-matchconference. The Indian captain feels that fans are one of the biggeststakeholders in the game and they need to be taken intoconfidence.
“This needs analysis. It has to be done over a period oftime by asking the fans who watch the game. For someonewatching the game, it is very different than someone involvedplaying in the game. “For us, there’s no room for saying that “I don’t want toplay this game, or you cannot say I don’t feel like battingwhile standing on the crease”. There is no room for thatbecause you will get out and the team will lose. we are at ourabsolute top intensity all the time.” Kohli made it clear that as cricketers they can only playan opposition that faces them but fans do have a choice towatch what they want to.
“It will be better answered by the fans who watch thegame if there’s too much cricket being played or repetition ofsame series for us it’s about playing cricket for the countryand we will do what we are presented with every time a newseries comes up.” The immediate assignment may be against Sri Lanka butKohli has already set his sights on the “difficult” tour ofSouth Africa, where he is looking forward to embracing the”uncomfortable”. “If you can embrace playing in difficult conditions thatwill be the difference. We want to be uncomfortable, we wantto embrace being uncomfortable and that’s the most importantthing.”
“We want to build our games in such a way that we want tolook forward to playing anywhere in the world. We just want toplay good cricket, that’s about it. We don’t want to wait forconditions to suit our games,” the skipper said with anobvious reference to the South African tour in January. Indian team has been on a roll for sometime now with mostof the Test matches happening at home. “Right now, we have gone through a good phase where a lotof cricket has been played at home.
We certainly believe a lotin ourselves as a team.” However the captain rightly pointed out that a good teamneeds to win everywhere in the world to be considered as a topnotch outfit. The South Africa series starts January 5, withthe first Test at Capte Town. “We want to rather develop our games for difficultconditions. If you want to be the top side in the world for alonger period of time you have to win everywhere. If we hadplayed all this cricket away as well we would have maintainedthe same intensity and have the same mindset,” Kohli said.
While Sri Lanka are not the best international opponentat the moment but Kohli made it clear that there is no dearthof respect for the rivals. “We feel every match we play is important. Every seriesis huge. It not like if we lose the series and you guys aregoing 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 ourconsistency as a team and that has worked for us,” he said.
The skipper dropped enough hints that the inform ShikharDhawan and KL Rahul will retain their opening slots. “Three openers is a situation that has always been athing. The balance has swung every now and then with one ofthem missing out. Now that Shikhar and KL playing well it’svery difficult to pick two out of three when all of them areso good, and they have done so well.”