Virat Kohli’s Indian cricket team were aiming to build momentum for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 by winning the series against Australia. They were leading 2-0 and looked set to continue their winning run. However, in a spectacular display, Australia registered wins in the remaining ODIs to win a series 3-2, winning an ODI series for the first time since 2017 and the first time in India since 2009. The loss has raised question marks on the Indian cricket team’s composition, with players being rotated and rested during the series. However, speaking in the post-match press conference following the defeat the Feroz Shah Kotla, Kohli was clear on his World Cup team.
“We are not going to give the excuse that we lost the games because we tried out players. As a side, combination wise, we are sorted. Condition based, there is one maximum change in the World Cup. We are clear on the playing XI for World Cup. We have to focus on the decisions that resulted in our loss. Hardik Pandya's return balances the batting and the bowling. We knw where we are going in the World Cup as a combination. We have to take better decisions in the pressure situations. There is no confusion relating to combination or the playing XI,” Kohli said.
The Indian cricket team had enjoyed a good run prior to their loss in the series against Australia. They defeated the West Indies in all formats at home in October, won the ODI and Tests in Australia for the first time and won an ODI series in New Zealand for the first time in 10 years. Kohli said barring the loss, there were plenty of positives for India.
“It has been a hectic season but we are proud of our performance. We are happy with the way we have played, happy with the way the guys have come around and shown their ability. The confidence that we have carried is something good to see. From that point of view, we deserve to enjoy the IPL. After a couple of months, all these talks will be irrelevant because everything will be taken over by the World Cup,” Kohli added.
Responsibility on players
With the Indian Premier League now running for close to two months, this will be the last tournament before the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. Chief selector MSK Prasad said there were talks with the franchises regarding the workload of the players while Rohit Sharma and Kohli also offered their respective take on the issue of resting players for the tournament. Following the Delhi ODI, Kohli laid the onus of managing the workload in IPL on the player.
“We have given the responsibility to the player to be smart and inform the management of the franchise. They will be in touch with Patrick Farhart, our team physio. All the things will be monitored for the World Cup and even the workload. We will give a window where guys can afford to rest. They will take that opportunity I can guarantee. A World Cup comes every four years and the IPL is played every year but that does not mean that we will not be committed to play in the tournament. We have to be smart and take good decisions. Responsibility and onus will be on the player. No one will be forced to do anything,” Kohli said.
No favorites for World Cup
In the last couple of years, there was a trend that home teams dominated in their own conditions. The last two World Cups in 2011 and 2015, won by India and Australia, has seen them clinching the trophy at home. However, the tide has changed ever since 2018. New Zealand won an ‘away’ series against Pakistan after 49 years while West Indies broke their rut in Tests against England to win a series after 10 years. They also drew the five-match series 2-2. Sri Lanka recently won a Test series in South Africa for the first time while India won an ODI series for the first time Down Under. With Australia turning the tables in India, Kohli said the 2019 World Cup is an open one with no favorites.
“Every team in the World Cup is a threat. Any team that gets on a roll in the tournament, they become difficult to beat. Having said that, the team that is on a roll can be knocked out in the knockouts by a side who wants more and who plays brave cricket in those situations. No team in the World Cup starts as favorites. You have to play good cricket to win the World Cup. Any team is dangerous. West Indies will be a dangerous team due to the combinations, England are strong, Australia look balanced, we are a strong side, New Zealand is good while Pakistan can defeat anybody on their given day,” Kohli said.
India will start their World Cup campaign against South Africa at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on June 5.