'The best thing is we have four tough games straight up.'
'It sets up things nicely, everyone has to be at their best, gain intensity from the first match itself.'
Captain Kohli on what it will take for India to triumph at the World Cup.
Harish Kotian/Rediff.com listens in.
India go into the World Cup as one of the favourites and Skipper Virat Kohli believes that for his team to live up to the lofty expectations, handing the pressure well will be one of the key factors.
"Handling pressure is the most important thing in the World Cup, not necessarily the conditions, so from that point of view it will be very helpful," Kohli said in Mumbai on Tuesday, May 21, on the eve of the India team's departure for the 2019 World Cup, starting in the United Kingdom from May 30.
"Looking at the magnitude of the games, the team that stays more focused and more balanced is the team that goes a long way in the tournament so our focus is that," he added.
Kohli is happy with how the World-Cup bound Indian players performed in the IPL and believes they have the right balance to go all the way.
"We feel we go into the World Cup feeling very balanced, very strong as a side. If you saw the IPL, all the players that are in the squad were in great form and were playing really well."
"From that point of view we expect ourselves to play the best cricket that we can every game and that's about the only focus we will have. That will mean we will have to focus on the process to be able to do that," Kohli said.
"That is the only expectation that everyone has on the team."
The World Cup will follow a different format this year, with all 10 teams playing each other during the league stage, with the top four progressing to the semi-finals, a format last used in the 1992 edition.
Two-time champions India have four tough games to start off the tournament. They begin their World Cup campaign against South Africa in Southampton on June 5 before they square off against defending champions Australia at The Oval on June 9.
Their third league match is against New Zealand in Nottingham on June 13 before the clash against Pakistan in Manchester on June 16.
"The best thing is we have four tough games straight up. It sets up things nicely, everyone has to be at their best, gain intensity from the first match itself. You don't have any room for complacency and that is why it is the World Cup and that is why it is the most important tournament in the world," the skipper said.
"We expect that kind of pressure from the first second of stepping on the field. We are not even thinking that maybe from the first week onwards we will get into it. We have to arrive on the day match-ready, absolutely 100 percent match intensity and start from there and start building from there and that is the challenge," the India captain said.
Kohli backed Kuldeep Yadav who struggled during the IPL to come good during the World Cup. He expects Kuldeep will play a key role along with Yuzvendra Chahal during the event.
Kuldeep managed just 4 wickets in 9 games for Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2019 before he was dropped.
Kuldeep bowled a match-winning 6/25 in England during the Nottingham ODI last year. So far, he has played 44 games, picking up 87 wickets at an impressive. economy rate of 4.94.
"Someone like Kuldeep, who has had so much success, it is important to see a period when things don't go your way. We are glad that it happened during the IPL rather than during the World Cup," Kohli said.
"So, he has time to reflect, time to correct things and come into the World Cup even stronger. We know the kind of skill set he possesses along with Chahal. They are really the two pillars of our bowling line up," he added.
The recent ODI series between England and Pakistan produced some high scoring games, with both teams scoring in excess of 300 in 8 of the 9 innings in the five-match series with one game washed out.
Kohli, who has played the last two World Cups, pointed out that the coming tournament may not see such high scoring games and expects the par total to be around the 270-run mark.
"In the ICC tournaments, the pitches are going to be very good. It is summer in the UK, so the conditions are going to be nice as well. Yeah, we expect high scoring games, but a bilateral series compared to a World Cup is very different," Kohli said.
"You might see a lot of -- I wouldn't say low-scoring games -- 260-270 kind of games and teams getting those totals and defending them successfully because of the pressure factor," the skipper added.
"We expect all kind of scenarios in the World Cup, but there will be quite a few high-scoring games, looking at the conditions."