India vs England: Virat Kohli Press Conference

India captain Virat Kohli addressed the press before the first Test against England, starting in Nottingham on Wednesday. Kohli spoke about a range of topics, from the opening combination to unfair criticism of Cheteshwar Pujara’s strike rate.

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On opening combination in the absence of Shubman Gill and Mayank Agarwal:

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We’ll announce the 11 before the toss tomorrow. We are happy with where we are placed.

Learnings from previous tours, where India were competitive but not always successful

We look to improve things we haven’t done well. We have to get better at control damage when things aren’t going your way. And then eventually capitalise when things go well. Not all sessions go well. When things don’t favour your team, we have to keep improving. We know exactly what we need to do. It all boils down to execution.

On Shardul Thakur as an all-round option

He definitely can be… he already is a multi dimensional cricketer. He brings a lot of balance, Hardik has done for us in the past. Now he’s getting back to bowling regularly. Shardul is a huge prospect for us, not just in this series but also moving forward.

Are India prepared well, having arrived in England early?

We are definitely much better prepared than in the past. The situation has allowed us to acclimatise and get used to the weather, it can change drastically and quickly. At the same time, playing under different conditions are going to add to our preparation.

We can have all the experience in the world, it comes to execution. That comes down to belief and how much you want to be in situations that aren’t easy. I’ve loved every moment of it.

Will England batsmen carry scars from the series earlier this year?

That all depends on the batsmen who are walking out, how much scarring they take with them when they come to bat. I can vouch for the fact that we definitely have the ability to bowl them out consistently. As long as we execute our plans. Whether they carry scars or not is up to the individual batsmen.

How will you tackle James Anderson?

I’ll just bat.

Is the team following India’s Olympics campaign?

We all have been following the Olympics, we are all keenly following our athletes. We are all super proud of all the medal winners and the ones who went far.

Is criticism of Cheteshwar Pujara’s strike rate unfair?

It’s been going on for a while. A player of his calibre and experience should be left alone. It should be left to the individual to work on whatever drawbacks in his game, similarly with me and any other player in the team. From the outside, I can say that criticism is unnecessary, but I for a fact know that Pujara doesn’t care. People can say what they want but at the end of the day, it’s just words.

How important are the breaks?

Subconsciously, your mind keeps working. You’re used to planning on a daily basis. So it’s important to take a break. You saw Ben Stokes is taking a break. We’ve been in bubbles for a few months. It’s not easy, so the breaks are important. We can refresh and come back, because being a captain is a stressful job. And you confine us into a bubble, it becomes even more difficult. It’s important to take breaks. We go into this series fresh and optimistic. For us, especially me as captain, this break was important.

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