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June 10, 2017

Virat Kohli

The Oval, London

Q. Different cricket grounds invoke different memories in cricketers. What does The Oval mean to you on an individual basis as a batsman?
VIRAT KOHLI: The only thing, like the special memory I have of The Oval, I think the two games that are very special for Indian cricket would be the seven-match series we had here and Robin (Uthappa) getting us across the line. I think it was at The Oval. In the end, that was a very good chase. And then against West Indies in the Champions Trophy back in the day when Shikhar (Dhawan) got a hundred and we chased a total down. So those two memories are very special for Indian cricket at The Oval.

Yeah, apart from that, I haven't played too many games at The Oval. So I can't connect to any other games as such but yeah, if you talk about this stadium then these two games come to my mind specifically.

Q. You have been part of some of the biggest games of Indian cricket, including the World Cup final, so you know the pressure. But as a captain, is this the biggest match of your captaincy career and how will you approach and look at it?
VIRAT KOHLI: Wasn't the first game the biggest?

Q. As a captain.
VIRAT KOHLI: I mean, you guys said the first was the biggest yet. Against Pakistan you said was the biggest match of my career yet (laughing). No, in general, I'm saying the perception from that.

To me, every game the same; you win some, you lose some. I never thought against Pakistan was the biggest game of my captaincy career, and I don't think this one is, either. For us as a team, it's a very important game, yes. So is the same for South Africa, as well. The game has to offer a lot for both the teams and both the teams will play with 120% commitment and with full passion and it will be a great game to watch, as well, for all the viewers and for the players to be a part of it as well; you get to test how good you are in situations like these.

As a cricketer honestly for me personally, I crave games like these. You want to be part of matches that are as important as this one and then if you perform in that and your team gets across the line, it's a different feeling. It improves you as a cricketer. Everyone looks forward to games like these and everyone in the team is very excited.

Q. You said that you crave for this test of your calibre. Now looking at that, could you tell us something about your team, your fitness levels, your concerns for tomorrow's match?
VIRAT KOHLI: We don't have anyone who is not fit to play. Everyone's fit and available for selection. Yeah, everyone is up to take the field tomorrow.

Q. Tomorrow probably will be Yuvraj Singh’s 300th ODI. Not many people have achieved that apart from Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid. If you could tell something about Yuvraj Singh; the journey that he has had, he has played a lot with you over the years.
VIRAT KOHLI: Yes, definitely, 300 ODIs is a magnificent achievement. Obviously you have to be super skilled and super talented to be able play those many games for the country. No one has ever had any doubts over the ability that he possesses to win games for the country, and he's done it in big tournaments.

You know, tomorrow is a big game, as well, so he might just want to use that as an extra motivation for him to be able to leave a mark on the cricketing world in his 300th game. He's achieved tremendous things for India. As I said, two Man-of-the-Tournaments in World Cups, India winning both, is a very special achievement. And personally in his life, as well, he's fought with bigger battles and that's a proof of the character that he possesses and the temperament that he has.

I wish him all the best for tomorrow, and many more games that he will play for India, and hopefully tomorrow he can turn this 300th game into a special one for us.

Q. Since South Africa have three left-handers in the top order, any chance of playing Ashwin tomorrow or are you thinking of the combinations?
VIRAT KOHLI: Yeah, as I said there are all kind of possibilities. We definitely have looked at the last game and where we can make a bit of change. We've already discussed those things, and yeah, I'm not going to reveal anything now, but everything is possible. You can have any sort of combination possible for us starting tomorrow.

Q. Tomorrow's game is a virtual quarterfinal in terms of the way the tournament is going. You yourself played big matches in terms of the biggest matches. What do you think makes the one difference in a match like a virtual quarterfinal or a knockout game compared to the other matches?
VIRAT KOHLI: I think you need to have a good balance of being competitive, being passionate about the game, but at the same time, not getting overexcited. I think the team that treats the game as normal as possible is the team that's in a better position to get the right result.

A lot of times, teams come in and they want to do something special and end up messing up the game in important situations. The team that can have most composure, I would say, to sum it up, will have a better chance of winning the game tomorrow. That's what I've experienced in the past, and you tend to get overexcited, and then you commit errors that can cost the team important runs, or if you fail to grab all the chances because you're overexcited and that can cost the team, as well. I think composure will be the biggest word for tomorrow.

Q. With the kind of batting order and power hitters India has lower down the order, is it possible to look at a 50-over game and play the first 20 overs as a Twenty20 game? Not now, but even in the future?
VIRAT KOHLI: The first 20? See, that could be a possibility in the future, depending on the conditions you're playing in. I think this tournament, every team is taking their time initially in getting in. I think the middle overs are something that teams are looking to target. We are doing something different which is capitalising the last ten overs better than anyone.

Yeah, if you end up doing both those phases well, I think the middle and the last, then probably end up getting a few more runs than you thought as a team.

It's a thin line. If you're trying to get 20 runs and you lose a set batsman at that point of time, you end up getting 20 less. So you never know what is enough when you're batting first. All you have to do is try to defend the total well that you put on the board.

In the future, everything is possible. Looking at the conditions, if the wicket is good enough to go out and play aggressive cricket from ball one, then yeah, I'm sure teams are going to start to look at the first 20 as a big opportunity. And then maybe thinking the last ten overs are probably the toughest to score because there’s one extra fielder is out, and if the field is big then it becomes more difficult.

But I don't think in England anyone is going to try and do that because the conditions can go against you pretty quickly and you can lose wickets with the new ball. The trend I've seen is every game is trying to get in first and then explode in the middle and the end. That's purely respecting the conditions that we’re playing in.

Q. You've played quite a fair bit with AB. Are you surprised at how quiet a tournament he’s had? Even going back to the IPL – how quiet he was then? Are you expecting or bracing yourselves at least for him to come to life in tomorrow's game?
VIRAT KOHLI: I actually empathise with him. I go through this a lot, as well. When you have set standards for yourself and then people get shocked. You know, he's by far the most committed cricketer I've ever seen around, and the reason for that was trying to do something extra for his team and that's the kind of character he's always been.

So, yeah, I'm not … I wouldn't say I'm shocked. I know AB quite well, so I know the reason behind, you know, his mindset of playing like that. Yeah, but at the same time, he can come out and when he's in the right frame of mind and it’s his day and he's in the mood, then it doesn't matter what he's done in the past games or how many runs he's scored or not scored. If he decides to play the way only he can, you know you have to find a way to get him out pretty quickly. So yeah, we'll look to stop not only him but all their batsmen. I think they are a quality side and you need to respect every batsman equally. Yeah, that's the kind of mindset we will go in with tomorrow.

Rev #2 by #422 at 2017-06-10 12:22:00 GMT


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