India captain Virat Kohli feels there is no need to panic due to lack of practice games ahead of the World Test Championship final against New Zealand in Southampton from June 18.
The Black Caps are perhaps slightly ahead in terms of preparation as they are already in England for a two-match Test series.
Kohli believes his side can still pack a punch. “In the past, we have landed in places three days prior and have had a hell of a series. I think it is all in the head. This is not the first time we are playing in England. We all know what the conditions are. Even if you are used to the conditions, but if you don’t have the right frame of mind when you enter the ground you are going to nick that first ball and find it tough to pick wickets.
“With the hunger and desire to play the final, we have no issues with even four practice sessions heading into the game. We are absolutely sure of what can we do as a team. Even players like Mohammed Siraj has played for India A in England,” Kohli told reporters on Wednesday.
England tours down the years
Kohli feels the start of India’s rise to the top started in England in the 2018-19 series. Though India lost the series but the fight toughened the boys. “The mindset has not changed at all. It has always been there to go out there and perform for my team. Then I had a chance to lead in 2018 and contrary to the acceptance on the outside, we understand the kind of cricket we played there and how much pride we took by competing the way we did. If 2014, if you would have told about WTC final, I would have had a tough time to believe that we will be playing it,” he said.
Shastri warned New Zealand by reading out Kohli’s stats. “Kohli of 2014 and now? He is slimmer, fitter, captain of the side and he is only five-and-a-half thousand runs richer.”
Two Indian teams in different tours
India is mulling over sending another cricket team to Sri Lanka for a limited-over series in July, while the senior side is in the UK. Head coach Ravi Shastri and Kohli welcomed the move as it could offer relief to players who are busy throughout the year. “At this moment, it is happening because of the current situation. In the future if you want to expand the game, it could be the way to go. Why not? If you have that much volume of cricketers and if you want to spread the T20 game across the globe, it could be the way ahead. If you think cricket in Olympics, you need more countries to play the game,” said Shastri.
Kohli feels it can be the “norm in the future”.
“With he current structure, it is difficult for players to stay motivated by staying confined in one area and dealing with high-pressure situations. Apart from the workload, the mental health will come into the picture because you don’t have an outlet. You can’t go out for a walk, a meal or a coffee to refresh yourself. This is a huge factor that should not be neglected. You don’t want players falling out due to mental pressures. There has to always be that channel open which the management has left it open for players to approach them,” he said.
Shastri seconded Kohli. “When you have to play five Test matches in six weeks, it is no joke. Even the fittest will need a break. You can be destroyed mentally being asked to do the same thing. It is not easy to recover if you have a bad day. It is important to shuffle the guys around.”