India is all set to create history in the Island nation with the prospects of inflicting a 3-0 whitewash on the hosts when they lock horns with Sri Lanka in the 3rd and the final Test starting from tomorrow at Pallekele. Captain Virat Kohli was not looking too far ahead and assured that the team will be focussed for the inconsequential rubber.
He also spoke about Kuldeep Yadav and his unique abilities, Indian bench strengths and many other topics. He also clarified the doubts surrounding his exclusion from the ODI series. He made it pretty clear that he will be part of the series and he doesn’t even know from where this news is creeping that he might be rested.
Here are the Excerpts from the pre-match press conference:
Can you remember any instances where you go into Test without having a look at the wicket?
Not really I mean. It’s quite a different situation but the management has gone to the stadium to have a look. We heard there were some changes to the pitch so they have gone to check how things look at this stage, so we will have more clarity on what we need to go in with. But I haven’t yet really gone in without looking at the wicket at least 8-10 hours before the game before this. So it’s probably a different kind of situation.
What changes can we expect going into this Test?
We have to understand that to play consistent cricket obviously you need to make sure that people are playing on a regular basis. Those who are performing and those who are doing well should continue getting more games than not and to be a consistent side I think we need to have continuity as well unless the situations where things are not controllable arises.
So we certainly don’t want to take anything lightly. We want to play the same kind of cricket that we have and hopefully retain the team that played the last game as much as we can. So we are certainly not thinking of too many changes at all, especially in this format because you don’t want to start taking things for granted and lose that momentum. We certainly are not thinking on drastic chances at this stage.
Has the thought of 3-0 whitewash crossed your mind?
No. For us it’s about playing another Test match and trying to win another Test. We have already won the series. But as I said it doesn’t mean that we can be complacent or afford to be complacent. For us it is another Test that we are going to try and win. You cannot look at these things and go into a game that’s certainly not what we think. I know none of the other team members are also thinking about this because I personally feel that it’s just a distraction that causes people to be over excited and that causes people to look too far ahead of what might be the outcome of this particular game. I think we need to stay in the present and treat every session with respect to win a Test, and that’s exactly what we want to follow.
The team wasn’t able practice today because of the incessant rain. Welcome break for the players?
Yeah, you can say that. We are certainly better placed to be able to afford a couple of off days. Yesterday we took an off voluntarily and today it just happened to rain but the day before that we had a good practice. Also what you need to understand in places like Sri Lanka it is very hot and humid. People sometimes end up doing too much at practice and then maybe you don’t recover for a game.
It might just be a good thing for those who needed more rest especially the bowlers, who have massive workload during Tests. For us I feel it’s more of a positive thing than a hindrance that we didn’t have practice a day before the game because we are in a good zone. Everyone is playing good cricket and everyone is bowling well. So we feel absolutely comfortable going into the Test even though we didn’t practice today.
The Jadeja ban, how do you look at it?
See firstly we need to be very clear on what are the things that fall into it and what are the things that a player needs to keep in his mind while being on the field. Lot of things happen on the field which in the thick of things or heat of the moment you end up doing but you don’t know what’s going to cause you one or two or three points. So I think the intent counts nowadays and that’s something that players need to keep in mind.
It might be a very small thing but if the intent is to do something bad then obviously that is something that counts against the player. I think players have to be much more aware going ahead and just hoping that the guidelines are very similar from now on. Because it shouldn’t vary according to how the situation is looked at. So if it is consistent then I think it is going to be good going ahead because players will obviously be more aware of how they need to conduct themselves on the field and it will only help the game get better.
What is it about Kuldeep Yadav that strikes you the most?
See all these… not that we are old. but all these very young guys coming in, there is one thing striking about them is their confidence. The way they compete against any opposition or in any condition is something that really stands out as far as I am concerned as captain. These guys give you confidence.
A guy like Kuldeep, when you hand him the ball, he is willing to bowl in any situation, willing to bowl with attacking fields, willing to throw the ball up towards the batsmen. He believes in his own ability and believes in deceiving the batsmen with the skill that he has. I think that’s his biggest quality. He has proven himself in Dharamsala which was not such a spin friendly wicket and it was quite flat in the first 2-3 days of the Test match. He turned the game around for us so he has that ability, which is very rare to find. A chinaman bowler is always something which is an x-factor in a team. I would say his confidence is his USP. He has a great chance of playing tomorrow and I wish him all the best.
Sri Lanka have faced a number of injury issues. India doesn’t have such problems. How do you keep the players motivated who are not playing?
I think that is also a skill. Those players who don’t get a chance, managing them is also a skill. It is not easy because everyone wants to play and luckily we have such players who are just waiting for opportunities. We don’t have players who are happy to sit out. So I think that attitude helps them stay interested in working hard and they know that there will be phase where those who are currently playing might not be in the best form so then they will get their chance.
I think in a team environment everyone knows that only 11 players can play, and sometimes some players have to wait for a long time and some players don’t have to wait at all. So in professional sport they understand this aspect. They are intelligent so you don’t get too many of such questions. So they understand the dynamics of the team and they make our job easier because their attitude is so good.
Will India be fielding a full strength team in the ODI series?
Yes definitely. We are going to sit down on selection soon and we certainly have plans in mind and combinations that we want to speak about. So as captain I am definitely in the thick of things and knowing what to speak to the committee about.
So that means you will be participating in the series?
My participation? Who said I am not playing?
There are rumours that several senior players will be rested …
Rumors? I don’t know where this came from. If you don’t want me to play, then tell me, I have no problems in playing.