Mumbai: India skipper Virat Kohli quashed rumours of a rift in the team, saying he is baffled by talks of things not going well between him and Vice Captain Rohit Sharma.
"In my opinion, it's baffling to be honest. It's absolutely ridiculous to read such stuff that comes out. I have been to a few public events and the public sentiment is 'aap log kya khele (you guys played so well)'. We have so much respect. We are feeding off lies. We are overlooking facts. We are turning a blind eye to all the good things that has happened. We are creating fantasies and scenarios in our head and want to accept that this is the truth," Kohli said while addressing the pre-departure media conference here ahead of the West Indies tour.
"I have seen this for too long now. Bringing personal lives into the picture. It's disrespectful after a moment. We've had no issues. If I don't like somebody, it shows on my face. I have also heard a lot in past few days but if team atmosphere isn't good, we couldn't have played well," Kohli insisted. "You enter the dressing room and witness for yourself the kind of healthy atmosphere that's there. The lies are made to look like they are believable," he stressed.
India head coach Ravi Shastri also termed the rumours "nonsense". "The way the team plays, no individual is bigger than the team. The way they play is in the interest of the game. You cannot have that consistency if there is a rift or whatever," he added. It all started when news was leaked in the media that a senior player had got his wife to stay with him for longer than the 'family clause' of the BCCI allows and that too without the permission of the captain and coach.
This came after former Chief Justice of India R.M. Lodha and senior BCCI officials questioned the decision of the Committee of Administrators (COA) to let the captain and coach decide on the travel plans of WAGs. In a bizarre move, a Committee of Administrators (CoA) member had told IANS that the committee wouldn't react to rumours of rift till the players approached them. The trouble apparently started brewing post the loss to England in the World Cup. The bowling unit supposedly felt humiliated post a team meeting after the defeat in the group-stage encounter.
Another board functionary said that the reports of rift need to be addressed at the earliest to avoid a scenario wherein the performance of the team can start getting affected. Kohli said he was not told to rest by the trainer and physiotherapist. "For some players, the workload is more than the others. It depends on those two professionals. I don't know the communication that was sent out to the selectors because nothing was communicated to me in terms of rest.
"I know we were all very disappointed with not going into the World Cup final, but we have to move on," he said on India's World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand. Kohli also backed out-of-form Test Vice Captain Ajinkya Rahane to come good, saying he is one of the pillars along with Cheteshwar Pujara in the team's Test batting lineup.
"We chose him (Rohit) over (Ajinkya) Jinx (in the South Africa Test series) because of the way he (Rohit) was playing. But Jinx is a solid player as well. He is one of the most sorted guys. He reads the game well too. He is a priceless fielder. We've all seen the impact he can make with the slip catching and everything. I don't think we should jump the gun on someone like him. But I think he will come around as he is that good. Jinx will also come in, and he can start stringing in scores. He is one of the pillars of our batting lineup along with (Cheteshwar) Pujara," Kohli said.
Kohli was asked about India's longstanding problem in the ODI middle order, and the skipper said they haven't had enough opportunities to prove themselves. "I don't know how to strike a balance as far as the middle order is concerned. We judge the middle order in the limited opportunities they get. If I am a middle order player and I don't get the chance to bat, then in one match I bat and fail, it's not fair to judge so regularly.
"The middle have done the job for us. In the semis, we lost because the team player better than us. I don't think there is something very alarming about where the Indian team is placed." Kohli also said it's a great opportunity for the youngsters in the squad to showcase their mettle.
"Basic message was to try out a few players they had in mind.The ODI side is more or less balanced. Im particularly excited about the first three T20Is. Some youngsters have shown great composure in tournaments such as the IPL." On the World Test Championship, he said: "I think it's a good thing. Test cricket really needed a boost. I think for all the cricketers now, every session will be more intense. All the teams are going to enjoy a lot more."