India are the last team to start their World Cup 2019 campaign, opening against South Africa on Wednesday, with every other team having played at least one game in the past week. Captain Virat Kohli felt starting late gave his side an advantage in sussing out conditions and strategies. Speaking on the eve of the match, he also welcomed the expectations people had of him, and how he has learned to go along with them.
On being the last team to start their World Cup campaign
It is a bit of an advantage, I have to say, in terms of understanding how the games have gone, what the conditions have to offer, what the overcast conditions bring into play when the sun is out. It's a totally different ball game altogether, what the conditions are at 10.30 in the morning compared to the afternoon. I think from that point of view, we have a lot to absorb. We have a lot to learn from looking at how the other teams play.
From that point of view, we would say that we have a lot of positives that we can take out of starting after everyone else.
On Kedar Jadhav's fitness
Kedar is doing well, he is back to full fitness. Kedar is batting in the nets now, he is hitting the ball well, so it is always nice to have him back in the mix because of the variety he brings into the side.
On whether there is pressure of scoring a century in the opening match, having done so in 2011 and 2015
When you perform for a long time, expectations are always there. I understand how to go along with the expectations rather than saying I'm not. You don't go out there to prove anything to anyone, which is a fact, but you have to accept that expectations are going to be there.
When I walk out to bat, come down the stairs, people will say "we need a hundred" and all those kind of things will happen. So, for me, that's just a part of the process. It's not something that I don't want to hear, or something that I think people should not tell me because when you do well, people obviously want to see you do well again and again because they want to see the team win.
So my focus is if I'm in a position to be able to do that again, but more importantly, make the team win. And if it takes a hundred runs, 150, 50, 60, 70, 40, whatever it is, I'm ready to do that and that's the frame of mind I'm going to be in.
On the 10.30am start time, and how it affects team combinations
If the conditions offer you a lot in terms of the pitch.. we know it's a different situation in England when there is a cloud cover and when there is sun out. With two new balls, if the pitch has something to offer, then an extra seamer comes into play big time.
But even on a good pitch, on a batting-friendly pitch with two new balls, I foresee the first 10 overs to be challenging if there is cloud cover. Because we are playing in England and the ball does a bit more than any other place in the world.
From bowling point of view, even if you play with two spinners, two seamers or three seamers, they are going to be in the game in the first half if you start at 10.30. The dynamics will change from morning to afternoon big time, and the bowlers will have to adapt very quickly.
On Kuldeep Yadav's weak IPL 2019 form
I have had great IPL seasons and I have entered playing for the country and I have felt like, "I feel like I'm going to dominate this tournament so much" - and you can't put bat to ball.
So every tournament, every game that you play has no connection to what you have done in the past. You can only take out the positives and the learnings and take it to the next tournament or game that you play. Whether you have done well in the IPL or you haven't, you still have to work hard. And to me, IPL has no connection to the World Cup.
He's a guy who has done so well in the last two years. I don't think three or four games of a T20 tournament will do anything to harm his confidence.
We know when he pitches the ball in the right areas the batsman has to make better decisions or you are walking out. And he's back to bowling at his best. In the nets he is bowling well, attacking the stumps, his variations are spot on, he is pitching the ball in the right area. So I see batsmen having to take better decisions against Kuldeep rather than the other way around.