Manchester: Pundits have spoken about how playing New Zealand in the semifinal of the World Cup could be an easier challenge for Virat Kohli and boys, but the India skipper said that every time his team walk onto the field, the pressure of expectations is the same irrespective of the team they are facing or the series they are playing.
“For the Indian team, every game is full of pressure, so we have never felt like any game has been easy for us at all,” Kohli told reporters here Monday.
“I can’t remember the last time I stepped on to the field and felt like ‘It doesn’t matter what happens in this game’. For the Indian team there are always full stadia and people expect you to do well, and there is always pressure, as well as opportunity. So as I said, we are well-equipped to handle those kinds of situations.
“But I think a World Cup knockout game brings that much more attention and excitement on the outside and the atmosphere is going to be very different from a bilateral series. So just to be able to soak that in and focus on what we need to do is going to be probably the only challenge that we face in terms of it being different,” added the Indian skipper.
Kohli also informed that the Indian team was better equipped to handle pressure.
“Everyone feels disappointed when you come to a stage of a tournament like this and you don’t make it through. But look, the Indian team always carry pressure and expectation wherever we play and we are quite used to that over the years to be honest,” said Kohli.
“Yeah, we are better off — I think we are better equipped to react well in these situations because we know the expectations that these kinds of games. I would like to state that none of us (India and New Zealand) would like to lose in the semis. It is simple… the team that play better win,” added Kohli.
India have been in the semis both in 2011 and 2015. The results have been contrasting. India went to win the World Cup in 2011 and lost to Australia in 2015.
“Very contrasting indeed,” Kohli said when asked about the two games. “The win in Mohali was my first World Cup and we went on to win the title. For me as a youngster it was magnificent then. In 2015, I was more of an established player and not being able to get the team across the line was obviously very disappointing for all of us,” Kohli pointed out.
“This time around, because the format has been different it has been length. Our first goal was to qualify for the semis and we have done that. Now we can focus totally on the remaining two games that we have in the tournament and try to bring our A-game and take up the intensity even more,” Kohli further stated.
Asked about the last minute change in travel plans, after India finished on top following Australia losing their last group game against South Africa on Saturday, Kohli said: “We are very happy because it was only one hour compared to three hours on the bus.”
The Indian skipper stressed that his mates are confident and relaxed. “The boys are very happy with the change in travel and Manchester is a great city to be in also, so all the guys were very happy. The mood is great. Everyone is very relaxed, very confident. And why shouldn’t we be,” he asked.
“Look, all the teams worked hard to reach this stage. Now whoever play better on the day will advance. There is nothing beyond that. So we will stick to the basics and keep things simple,” the Indian skipper signed off.