MUMBAI (Reuters) - India’s best chances of defending the Champions Trophy title next month will be if they do not burden themselves with the prospect, skipper Virat Kohli said on Wednesday.
Kohli was part of the Indian team who trumped hosts England in the 2013 final at Edgbaston, and he said he recalled no creased foreheads in that victorious dressing room.
The same carefree attitude has been the hallmark of the Indian team who are currently the number one test side, and Kohli saw no reason why it would not work in the one-day format.
“I think the first challenge is not to think that we are defending the title,” the 28-year-old told reporters ahead of the team’s departure for Britain for the tournament starting on June 1.
“When we went there last time, we just wanted to enjoy ourselves as a young unit and we ended up winning the tournament and creating a team which has done so well so far,” he said.
“Right now, the mindset is very similar - to go out there and enjoy our cricket, which we’ve done in the past couple of years. In test cricket, we’ve been able to reach the top with that mindset, (along) with a hunger to win. We want to take it across to all formats.”
Kohli demanded from his team the kind of “ruthlessness” evident when they won 10 of 13 tests on home soil last season.
India’s batting mainstay also reminded his team that there would be little margin for error in the June 1-18 tournament featuring top eight one-day sides.
“Because the tournament is much shorter (than World Cup) and you got top eight teams in the world, the competitiveness of the tournament is much higher, right from the word go,” he said.
“In Champions Trophy, you need to be on top of your game from game one. If not, your chances go down pretty soon. I think that’s the biggest challenge in Champions Trophy.”
India, who begin their Group B campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan in Birmingham on June 4, preferred experience over youth when selecting the squad, which includes former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and limited-overs stalwart Yuvraj Singh.
Kohli predicted significant contributions from both the senior players.
“They are so experienced that given the freedom to play their natural game in the middle order, they know better than anyone else how to build an innings, how to take the team out from difficult positions and how to win matches,” he said.
“In the last series (against England), they batted freely and enjoyed each other’s company. When two of your greatest players play freely, it gives a lot of confidence to players batting above them.”
(The story was refiled to correct the seventh paragraph to say 10 of 13, instead of 12 of 13)
Reporting by Amlan Chakraborty in New Delhi; editing by Mark Heinrich