Before leaving for the World Test Championship final, which will be played in England's Southampton against New Zealand from June 18, skipper Virat Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri addressed the media on Wednesday.
Here are the highlights from their press conference:
Two India squads travelling to different places at the same time could become a norm
Two India squads travelling to different places at the same time could become a norm in the mentally draining world of bio-bubbles that cricketers are forced to live in amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hinted Virat Kohli. "With the current structure and the kind of structure that you're competing inside for a long period of time, it's very difficult for the players to stay motivated and find the right kind of mental space," Kohli said in the pre-departure press conference. "You know just confined in one area and just doing the stuff, day in day out when you're dealing with high pressure situations. So, this (two squads) will definitely become a norm for the future," he added.
"Apart from the workloads, the mental health side of things will also come into the picture big time because you don't have an outlet at all," said Kohli. "In today's day and age you literally go into the ground, come back to the room, and you have no space where you can just disconnect from the game and just go out for a walk or go out for a meal or a coffee and say, Okay, Let me refresh myself. Let me just get away from the game a little bit so I think this is a huge factor which should not be neglected. Because as much hard work as we've done to create this team, you don't want players falling out because of the mental pressures and not having the capacity or the space to express themselves." Kohli endorsed players asking for breaks to address mental health issues.
Sitting beside Kohli, head coach Ravi Shastri said the current schedules are punishing and the world of quarantines is making players' jobs tougher. "You are not just talking about the World Championship. But if you want to add that as well, you have to play five Test matches in this environment in six weeks. It's no joke. I mean even the fittest will need a break. More than the physical part, it's the mental part, like he had (Virat) mentioned, you know you can be destroyed mentally. "Being asked to do the same things day in day out and then go and perform. And it's not easy to recover if, especially if you've had a bad day. It's important that you shuffle the guys around and keep them mentally fresh," said the coach.
WTC final should be best of three affair in long run: Shastri
Ravi Shastri said the World Test Championship final should be a best-of-three affair in the long run and not a one off match. "I think ideally, in the long run, if they want to pursue with this Test championship, best of three final would be ideal. A three match series as a culmination of two and a half years of cricket," Shastri said.
"But they need to finish off the Future Tours Program (FTP) and then start all over again. So one off is one off, guys have earned their stripes, and this is not a team that is suddenly blossomed overnight," he said. "See, it is the first time that you have a Test Championship final. When you look at the magnitude of the game that's going to be played, I think this is the biggest, if not the biggest ever, because it's the toughest form of the game. It's a format that tests you. It's not happened over three days or three months, it's happened over two years, where teams have played each other around the world, and earned their stripes to play the finals so it's one heck of an event," he added.
All in the head: Virat Kohli on lack of preparation time for WTC final
Virat Kohli is not too concerned about the limited preparation time that his team will get for the World Test Championship final against New Zealand as he believes that it has the requisite understanding of conditions from its past experience of playing in England.
"...look, in the past we have landed in places three days prior even in a proper schedule and have had a hell of a series and hell of competition, so it is all in the head," Kohli said. "...it is not the first time we are playing in England, we all know what the conditions are like," he said. "And even if you are used to the conditions, if you don't enter the field in the right frame of mind, you are going to nick that first ball or you are going to find it tough to pick wickets," he added.
According to Kohli, his side would not have any issues even if it gets just four practice sessions. "...we don't have any issues even with four practice sessions heading into the game, because we are absolutely sure of what we can do as a team and we all have played in England. "Whether it is with the Indian team or India A as well, for the likes of (Mohammed) Siraj...so we are not bothered by that at all and we just want to get there and make the most of the opportunity at hand," he added.
(With PTI inputs)