With the IPL done and dusted, the focus in the cricketing world now shifts to the Champions Trophy in the UK. Often referred to as the mini World Cup, the Champions Trophy has been a thrilling tournament on most occasions where 8 of the top-ranked teams aim to win the prestigious trophy. Bangladesh will be playing their first Champions Trophy this time at the cost of the West Indies team. India is the defending champion and would love to retain the trophy they won 4 years back at Birmingham under the able leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. This will also be the first time in over a decade that Dhoni will not lead India in a ICC tournament. But his sucessor, Virat Kohli promises a fearless brand of cricket from Team India.
“I would never play for redemption, my only motivation is to keep winning games for my country and doesn’t matter the conditions I am playing in, it might be in sub-continent, it might be England, Australia, South Africa, the aim always is to win games and I am willing to do whatever I can to be able to achieve that for the team,” Kohli said at the press conference before the team’s departure for the tournament. “People might look at it redemption, opportunity or stuff like that but in my head I don’t think of those things at all, for me it’s a game of cricket played anywhere in the world,” the Indian skipper added. Kohli also said that the standard of competition in the Champions Trophy is higher than World Cup as only the best 8 teams participate. Hence, all the matches are exciting and the clashes are of a high quality.
In what can be perceived as high morale of the captain and the team, Kohli said, “We want to win it without losing a game. We have to be at top of our game from Ball 1.” The young skipper added that his sole ambition is to win matches for India.
“If players don’t do well in India and then go back, there is no hype around it, you don’t do well away from India it is like a knife hanging on your neck, so I don’t believe in those things,’’ Virat said. India begin their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston on June 4. “India, Pakistan game is always exciting but for us it is a game of cricket,” Kohli said. “The hype around India-Pakistan game not always in our control,” he added.
While backing the senior pros in the team, Kohli said that the presence of players like Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh in the squad only added to it. When asked about how he intends to use Dhoni and Yuvraj in the matches, the Indian skipper said, “Its not for me to use them. They have so much experience that if we give them the freedom to play their own natural game, being the most experienced in the squad, they know how to build an innings and take match out of difficult situations. They played with freedom in the last series which was heartening. It helps in boosting the environment. The entire outlook changes. They are the strongest pillars of our team.
Asked how he will approach the tournament considering his side are the defending champions, Kohli said, “The first challenge is to not think about that fact that we are defending the title. When we went there the last time (2013), we just wanted to enjoy ourselves as a young unit and then we ended up winning the tournament and creating a team which has done so well so far. There have been few changes made from that team. My mindset is similar, go out and enjoy your game. We have reached the top with that mindset. Ruthlessness is something that we speak about all the time. We go in with that mindset. That will go a long way in such a tournament and will get you results more often than not.”
The Indian team is set to play 2 warm-up matches before the tournament gets going on 1st June. They would like to bring in their vast resources to play and get their combinations right before the big match on 4th June against arch-rivals Pakistan. Virat Kohli along with a few other players should look to get back into form and prepare themselves to enjoy their time in UK and return with the trophy yet again.