Image courtesy of: Zimbio
India batsman Virat Kohli has announced that he is determined to turn the national team’s fortunes around in the upcoming five-Test series against England, which gets underway on July 9 in Nottingham.
Kohli’s comments come after India lost 1-0 to both South Africa and New Zealand.
“This is right up there with South Africa, Australia, New Zealand,” Kohli said. “And England, I would say, these are the four places where the subcontinent players do want to perform well and do target. I too have that in my mind. A pretty special place to play cricket.
“I’ll be playing a Test at Lord’s for the first time so all in all a very exciting tour for me personally because I have never played Test cricket here before. I am really looking forward to it. I have some goals I want to achieve, and I have been thinking about them. I am pretty excited about playing here, and it is right up there with the toughest venues for subcontinent players.”
The media have already branded Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara as the main threats in the Indian batting line-up, but Kohli is not letting the pressure get to him.
“I think it is more important what we expect of ourselves,” Kohli said. “Obviously people will expect things when you start performing, but you can’t focus on that. Because then, firstly you put pressure on yourself, and secondly you drift away from what you want to do. If you think of what you expect from yourself, you stick to your plan. We’d rather stick to that.
“Obviously we realise that we both have performed consistently in Test cricket. We want to keep on going like that. Cheteshwar has been brilliant for us at No. 3 and a really solid player. Gives us that feeling of calm. Him and me have got some good partnerships that have helped us get into stronger positions in Test matches. We both realise that, but we aren’t thinking too much into those things. You can’t plan for things unless you are batting in the middle and you are set. And then you can dictate terms. Once you get going you start to think about that big partnership that changes the course of the game.”
Kohli also revealed that India have been focussing on the positives of their 4-0 whitewashing at the hands of England in 2011 rather than the negatives.
“We haven’t spoken about what we did wrong in that series,” Kohli said. “We’ve spoken about the positives we could take out of it. A guy who played brilliantly in that series, Rahul Dravid, is mentoring us right now, speaking about his experiences. That’s a big plus. We can’t focus on the things that went wrong. You don’t want to think about them. That was a different time.
“Three years down the line, we have a totally new side. It’s a very exciting time for us because most of us haven’t played Test cricket here. It’ll be exciting for us to experience the conditions and everyone’s eager to go out there and see what it’s like. We’ve heard a lot from senior players of how it’s one of the best places in the world to play Test cricket. You get full crowds, everyone’s involved in the game and everyone knows the game, so it’s an exciting time for us. We don’t want to think about the negatives of 2011.
“Obviously, we’d like to do well in the series. It’s not about washing that  off, erasing those memories. That will stay in the history books, whether we like it or not. All we can focus on is the new series we have here, and put in a strong performance which would be a starting point for this young team to go ahead and be a good quality Test side.”
The 25-year-old also stated that England will definitely miss spinner Graeme Swann during the series.
When asked whether India would use Ravi Shastri’s plans of continuously targeting England captain Alastair Cook, Kohli said: “There’s no one man that we’re looking to target. If we play aggressively as a unit, you would want everyone in the opposition to be out. You want to get every wicket possible. It’s not about targeting one man in particular as far as I’m concerned. Personally I’m not preparing for a particular player to be bogged down too much or anything like that. If we play aggressively, we’ll create problems for all the batsmen and that’s going to be our target.
“I’m the same for everyone. I don’t change my aggression towards a particular player. Whatever works for the team, I try to do that. That’s something I’m pretty consistent in.”