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'To captain India in the World Cup would be the biggest achievement of my life'

Last updated on: January 07, 2017 21:01 IST

'Responsibility makes me better player, better person, makes my understand the game much more. I think I would be able to execute the plans with much more conviction than the time I started off with Test captaincy'

'About the batting bit, if I ask him where he wants to bat, he would tell me "wherever you want me to bat". That is the kind of person he is. But I would love to see him bat higher up usually than what has been over the years.'

Virat Kohli (background) says he is confident of leading the ODI and T20I teams 

IMAGE: Virat Kohli (background) says he is confident of leading the ODI and T20I teams. Photograph: PTI

Getting Test captaincy left him surprised but Virat Kohli says he is better-prepared to lead India in the limited-overs format.

Kohli was the obvious choice for captain in ODIs and T20Is after Mahendra Singh Dhoni decided to step down days before the England series, beginning January 15.

"Test captaincy, I think I was told a day before the Adelaide Test that MS is not going to play the game (Dhoni announced his shock retirement midway into the Australia series in 2014) and I was going to be captaining. It was quite surprising. I didn't expect it at all. In my head I was still finding my feet in Test cricket as a batsman. But the responsibility worked beautifully for me," said Kohli comparing the scenarios in which he was appointed captain.

Kohli has had a dream run since that Australia tour and is now considered among the top batsmen playing the game. He feels just like it has worked for him in Tests, captaincy across formats will push him even more.

"It (captaincy in Tests) took a bit of time to process and understand how it is done. Yes I would say the ODI and T20 captaincy has been something that I have tried to learn along the lines a lot more. At the same time I feel a lot more confident taking it up and starting it up straightaway because of the kind of cricket I have played in the shorter formats and what I have learnt," he was quoted as saying by bcci.tv.

"I have been preparing in my own head, MS has been speaking to me about strategies, about how situations need to be approached. Because I think he also understood it is very important to guide me, teach me, knowing the legacy he has set up. It is very important for the person who is coming to take it forward and not be in a state of confusion.

Virat Kohli is ready to learn from Mahendra Singh Dhoni

IMAGE: Virat Kohli is ready to learn from Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Photograph: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

"Added responsibility has always worked for me, in a sense that there is no room left to be complacent. You have no room to relax. That is why even in IPL, it is very easy to throw my wicket after 60 and 70s but the fact that I push myself after that is because I understand as a captain of the team, I need to set an example and need to first make that kind of effort before asking the team members to do it," Kohli added.

He knows captaincy in limited overs format is a different ball game and hailed the contribution of Dhoni.

"Captaincy in Test cricket still gives you the opportunity to comeback into the game. I saw an Allan Border interview where he spoke about the leadership of Ricky Ponting. He mentioned that Ponting was able to maintain that consistency rate over such a long period time in a format that doesn't allow you to comeback very often. So to stay on top was a remarkable achievement. That is what MS has done for India as well. Has got all the major trophies.

"Captaining in shortest format is very difficult, and to keep coming back in that requires different set of thinking, requires you to think out of the box, which MS has done wonderfully for so many years. Responsibility makes me better player, better person, makes my understand the game much more. I think I would be able to execute the plans with much more conviction than the time I started off with Test captaincy," said Kohli.

India's Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni during a practice session

IMAGE: India's Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni during a practice session. Photograph: PTI

How did he react to the captaincy news?

"The first reaction is obviously it is a very special moment in my life. It's a lot of responsibility and something I am really looking forward to. I didn't realise when this transition happened in my own head.

"Starting off as a player just wanting to play for India and now having the responsibility to be captain in all three formats. I feel very grateful that I have been given this opportunity," said Kohli.

"When I was informed by the selectors and the BCCI, all the emotions and feelings of me playing club games as a child. Those are the first things that came to mind because for every child it is a dream to play for the country and then this probably is the biggest day in my life," he said.

Showering rich praise on Dhoni, under whom he flourished as a cricketer, Kohli said: "I am thankful to MS Dhoni as well for giving me this opportunity; for thinking that I am worthy of taking the responsibility forward. I am very grateful to his contribution in the whole process as well. I have learnt a lot from him, in terms of leadership, in terms of conducting myself how to take the team together.

"So it couldn't have been done in a better way, in such a respectful and humble way by him. At the same time, me understanding what the situation is like and having that respect and regard for him."

'It is time for Dhoni to enjoy his cricket now' 

IMAGE: 'It is time for Dhoni to enjoy his cricket now'. Photograph: Paul Kane/Getty Images

He feels lucky to still have Dhoni in the dressing room.

"It is a win-win situation for the new captain coming in. Still having him for advice, for inputs, for the cricketing brain that he has. But I am really happy and pleased that he would be able to play freely. He would be able to express himself as the aggressive MS Dhoni we knew when he came into the team.

"Somewhere as a player you understand that responsibility can take that away from you. I think it is time he enjoys his cricket for much ever time he wants. He has taken so much burden for the country and it is his time to enjoy.”

Kohli said he would continue picking Dhoni's brain.

"On the field, obviously I would be running to him quite a lot. Even now when I was captain we would always have discussions and he would come to a conclusion.

“About the batting bit, if I ask him where he wants to bat, he would tell me "wherever you want me to bat". That is the kind of person he is. But I would love to see him bat higher up usually than what has been over the years. As I said, if he enjoys his cricket, the team is in a very solid space. His ability, understanding of the game and situations is priceless."

Virat Kohli says the team's main aim is to identify players who can play in different positions

IMAGE: Virat Kohli says the team's main aim is to identify players who can play in different positions. Photograph: Solaris Images

The next World Cup is still more than two years away and Kohli said leading the Indian team in the mega event will be his biggest achievement.

"Just hearing about the World Cup gives me goosebumps. I have played in one (he has actually played in two), played couple of World T20s. But to captain India in the World Cup would be the biggest achievement of my life."

Terming the current phase as wonderful for Indian cricket, Kohli said: "The current phase provides opportunities to youngsters to seal their spot for that big occasion (World Cup). We have got the Champions Trophy coming up as well. Everyone is excited and fighting for places in the ODI squad.

"We are still figuring our best combinations, so the main aim is to identify players who can play in different positions, who can work around the batsmen who are featuring in the ODI set up for a ling time. At the same time giving them ample time to prepare for those big events." 

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