Ita��s been over four years since Indian cricket team won their second champions trophy title in 2013 beating England in their own backyard under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. India will start this yeara��s Champions Trophy campaign against arch rival Pakistan on June, 4 to defend their title under captaincy of Virat Kohli. Before the teams departure to United Kingdom, Kohli looks quite confident about defending the Champions Trophy title when he addressed media in Mumbai on Wednesday where he said, a�?I think the first challenge is not to think about the fact that we are defending the title.A�When we went there the last time, we just wanted to enjoy ourselves as a young unit. We ended upA�winning the tournamentA�and ended up creating a team which has done so well so far.”
“From that team as well, there have been a few changes. Right now, our mind-set is very similar, to go out there and enjoy our cricket which we have done in the past few years.a�? Indian cricket team has been played some aggressive cricket for last couple of years under Kohlia��s captaincy. a�?In Test cricket, we have been able to reach the top with that mind-set, having that hunger to win. We have taken it across all formats. Ruthlessness is something we definitely speak about all the time. Even if we close series off, we want to win it without losing a game or drawing a game as well, if possible. We go in with that mind-set and that goes a long way in a tournament like this. If we can think about our games in that manner, we get the results more often than not.a�? Kohli added when asked about the strategy to defend the Champions Trophy title.
Champions Trophy will begin on June 1 but Indian cricket team will start their campaign against arch-rival Pakistan when the team will lock horns with Pakistan at Edgbaston cricket ground, Brimingham on Sunday, June 4 after playing two warm up games against New Zealand and Bangladesh on June, 28 and 30respectively. There is always been hype around when these two teams play against each other due to some political issues between India and Pakistan but despite that Indian skipper want his team to play in a game against Pakistan just as any other game. a�?For people watching in the stadium, the game is different. If you ask players from both sides, it is like any other game. We prepare for it like it’s any other game. The atmosphere around the ground is different. But in our heads, playing against any other team, be it England, Australia, South Africa… it is all the same. There is no need to talk to anyone. It is not the first time we are playing against them. There is no need to prepare differently for the game.a�? He said.
Champions Trophy is known as World Cup of champions as top 8 teams from the ICC ODI ranking qualifies for the tournament. The 28 year old Indian middle order batsman feels that Champions Trophy is more competitive than the World Cup. To explain the logic behind his statement he said, a�?Because the tournament is much shorter and you have the top eight teams in the world, the competitiveness of the tournament is much higher from the word go. In the World Cup, you can still have the league games and you have time to get into the World Cup and then dominate in the latter half. But in Champions Trophy, you have to be on top of your game from game one. If you are not, your chances go down pretty soon. That’s the biggest challenge in Champions Trophy. It is so competitive that the fans love watching.a�? India is going in Champions Trophy with the squad consisting combination of experience and the young blood. Youngsters like Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah are accompanied by experienced players like Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni; who has large amount of experience under their belt playing in these English conditions as well as playing in such big tournaments.
When asked about the role of these two veterans, Kohli described them as two strongest pillars of the team. a�?The kind of players they are, I don’t think I can use them in any particular way. They have enough experience that if you give them freedom to play their game in the middle order, I am sure they knowmost, how to build the match, how to win, come out from difficult situations. What we got to see inA�the last series (versus England); they played freely, they were enjoying batting with each other, for the first time they did it without the burden. It was good to see them play with a free mind. The players above them also get confident. The team environment received a boost because when these two players play with a good mindset, the team’s outlook is different. I will regard them as the two strongest pillars of the team. The good their mind set the better for the team.a�? He said.
The amount of time that Indian players have for the preparations of Champions Trophy is less because of the recently concluded Indian Premier League where all the players were busy representing their respective franchise. Though the Indian Skipper expressed mixed opinions when asked about the preparations through Indian Premier League ahead of Champions Trophy. a�?I don’t think you can have too much similarity in both formats. (But) from getting some game time, it helps a lot of people in staying in the zone of being match ready, to say the least. It is different for different people. Some people cannot connect the two formats at all; some people take the bits and pieces and put them into place in all three formats. Just being match fit, just having the rhythm of bowling, the flow of batting, just the mental set-up of scoring runs in tough situations is something you can carry forward to all the formats.a�? He said. a�?IPL being the highly competitive tournament, it allows you to be in that zone when you play world-class players from all the teams. I think those could be the most competitive games you could be part of before something like Champions Trophy.a�?
He further said hailing the competitiveness of IPL. Kohli also expressed his disappointment over his own form and his team RCBa��s form in the recent IPL. a�?After the kind of season we had, it teaches you about yourself as a person at a few levels. From a mindset point of view, it made me realize that you cannot do everything in every game. Sometimes people might start looking at you like that. Sometimes as a human being, you need to realize your limitations and take a few steps backwards. It was so bizarre. Everything that we (RCB) tried was going against us. It was bizarre and may be it was to teach me to balance things out and take a step back and think about how much you can do on the field and how much intensity with which you can play.a�? He said.
Despite having strongest batting line up in the IPL, Royal Challengers Bangalore left this yeara��s IPL at the bottom in the points table managing only 3 wins from 14 matches they have played. Kohli also failed to continue his rich form from last yeara��s IPL where he emerged as highest run getter in a season in the history of IPL with 973 runs from 16 games, smashing record 4 hundreds and 7 half centuries, ended this season of IPL with managing just 308 runs from 10 games that he has played. a�?As I keep getting older, those things are important and you need to avoid burnout too quickly. Those were the biggest learnings for me. I was pretty fortunate that I got to experience such a time. It teaches you a lot as captain, it teaches you lot composure wise. You take a lot away from failures which is what I have always cherished.a�? The 28 year old Indian skipper concluded the press conference.
Fixtures of Indian team in Champions Trophy 2017
Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Banladesh
Group B: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, South Africa
May 28, Sun A� A� A� A�vs New Zealand A� at Kennington Oval, London A� at 3.00PM
May 30, Tue A� A� A� A�vs BangladeshA�A�A�A� at Kennington Oval, LondonA�A� at 3.00PM
June 4, Sun A� A� A� A� A�vs Pakistan at Edgbaston, BriminghamA�A�A�A�A� at 3.00PM
June 8, Thu A� A� A� A� A�vs Sri Lanka at Kennington Oval, LondonA�A� at 3.00PM
June 11, Sun A� A� A� A� vs South AfricaA�A� at Kennington Oval, LondonA�A� at 3.00PM