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Virat Kohli says Mission 2019 Cricket World Cup starts in Sri Lanka

Virat Kohli will be leading the Indian cricket team against Sri Lanka in the five-match ODI series after drubbing the hosts 3-0 in Tests.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 19, 2017 19:58 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Dambulla
Virat Kohli,2019 Cricket World Cup,India national cricket team
Indian cricket captain Virat Kohli addressed the press ahead of the first ODI against Sri Lanka at the Rangiri Dambulla Cricket Stadium in Dambulla on Saturday.(PTI)

Virat Kohli declared that the clock will start ticking in the build-up to the 2019 World Cup when India begin the One-day International series against Sri Lanka at the Dumbulla International Stadium on Sunday.

India, ranked No 3 in the ICC ODI list, will look to add to their dominance over Sri Lanka, having achieved a 3-0 Test series sweep. Sri Lanka also upset India in the early stages of the ICC Champions Trophy in June, but Virat Kohli had his sights set on the big prize.

“See, for us it’s about time frame, it’s not about which opposition we are playing,” Kohli told a pre-match media conference on Saturday. “You can’t pick and choose, I have never believed in that and we as a team don’t believe in that.

READ | Lasith Malinga set for 200th ODI for Sri Lanka, 2 short of 300 wickets

“Two years to go, almost 24 months to go for the World Cup and now is the time to give players certain roles to get into the groove and understand what we need to do in reaching that World Cup final. For us, it’s all about when you want to start, giving roles to players, experimenting as a team.”

The India skipper confirmed KL Rahul would bat at No 4 while acknowledged that it was a challenge for Ajinkya Rahane. The top Test batsman’s ODI future hangs in the balance.

He hardly played in the Champions Trophy as Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma opened and then was Man-of-the-Series in the West Indies with Rohit rested.

Kohli hinted Rahane or Manish Pandey may have to sit out. That could mean Kedar Jadhav gets a go.

READ | Upul Tharanga evokes memories of Sri Lanka’s ICC Champions Trophy win over India

“In any format, if you have any kind of desperation or urge to cement your place or perform so to say, there is always going to be a bit of pressure on you. See, it’s a pecking order that you need to look at. Shikhar, who was not even in the mix of things till a few months back, when he comes back you see what he can do.

“So, it becomes very difficult for you to understand, what do you do in that situation because he came back and scored in the Champions Trophy. He continued his form in the Test series and won you two Tests.

“Jinks (Rahane) understands that at this stage he is the third opener in the team, we certainly back him because he has been shifted around a bit in the batting order, which is not healthy for a guy who likes to open in the shorter format,” he said, adding that Rahane was more relaxed after clicking in the Caribbean.

The key to India doing well consistently was to try new things.

“Sometimes we get so carried away by Team India’s expectations that you have to win every game that we don’t follow a pattern.”

Kohli said India are likely to pick only two spinners from left-armers Kuldeep Yadav and Axar Patel while hinting leg-spinner Yuzhvendra Chahal could play.

He was confident India had the core set for the World Cup.

READ | India look to extend dominance over Sri Lanka in ODI series

“The core has always been good. We have players who have the ability to strike 200, and players who have the ability to play for 35 overs in a one-day game. It all depends on what you decide to do as a team and then move forward in that direction. Everyone is ready to take those challenges up, they’re ready to embrace them, and that I think is the most exciting part.

“If we can embrace trying out a few difficult things and being uncomfortable, then it’ll help our cricket grow even further. If you see the way we’re playing Test cricket right now, we’re almost getting 400 in a day, which we haven’t done on many occasions…”

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 19:55 IST