6 Things Virat Kohli Clarified Before Departing For West Indies

While Kohli was critical of the rumours regarding a rift in Team India, he was optimistic about Test C’ship.

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Cricket
5 min read

Indian skipper Virat Kohli addressed the media along with head coach Ravi Shastri on Monday in Mumbai before leaving for the one-month long tour of West Indies which begins on Saturday, 3 August.

While speaking to a room full of journalists, Kohli touched upon a host of issues ranging from rumours regarding his tiff with vice-captain Rohit Sharma, upcoming World Test Championship and Ravi Shastri’s future.

While Kohli was critical of the rumours regarding a rift in the Indian dressing room, he was quite optimistic about the Test extravaganza and the opportunity given to the ‘younger lot’ is the limited-over series against West Indies.

Here’s a look at the six talking points from Virat Kohli’s press conference prior to the team’s departure

1. The Alleged Rift With Rohit Sharma

Indian captain Virat Kohli on Monday categorically refuted rumours of a rift with his deputy Rohit Sharma, saying "people feeding off lies" are being disrespectful to the players' personal lives.

After India's ouster from the World Cup, stories of fissures in the Indian camp emerged with claims that Rohit and Kohli are not seeing eye to eye.

“In my opinion, its baffling. It’s absolutely ridiculous to read these kind of stuff, that comes out there.”
Virat Kohli

Adding fuel to all the speculations was a cryptic instagram post by Kohli's actress wife Anushka Sharma, which was later deleted.

“I have seen this for too long now. Bringing personal lives into the picture. It’s disrespectful after a moment. I have played the game for 11 years and Rohit has played for 10 years (12 years) and it’s bizarre that people are creating this stuff from outside.”
Virat Kohli

Kohli, who urged people to come and see the atmosphere in the change-room.

“You people please come to our change room and see, how we speak to a Kuldeep Yadav, how we crack a joke with the senior-most player MS Dhoni. We can’t shoot a video and show you guys. It baffles you as a leader, when lies are being floated around to make it look like actually they are believable.”
Virat Kohli

2. Will it Now be Awkward Between Virat & Rohit?

Virat denied that the events in the past few days would make it awkward between him and Rohit in the dressing room in the coming days.

"If I don't like a person or if I am insecure about a person, you will see it on my face or my behaviour towards the person and that's how simple it is," Kohli said.

“I have always praised Rohit whenever I have got an opportunity because I believe he is that good. There is no issue between me and Rohit. I don’t know who is benefitting from all of this but we are living, breathing towards getting Indian cricket to the top, and here we get some kind of pleasure in bringing Indian cricket down.”
Virat Kohli

"We have to reflect as cricketers everyone can take a step back and think are we creating something that's really not out there. You can't play with that kind of passion if you don't get along with each other. As I said, its baffling and its time that we focus on taking Indian cricket forward," Virat added.

3. The Future of Ravi Shastri as Team India Coach?

Virat said that he is in favour of Ravi Shastri continuing as the head coach of the Indian cricket team despite the criticism it faced following the semi-final ouster from the World Cup.

“Well, the CAC (Cricket Advisory Committee headed by Kapil Dev) has not contacted me on this. But all of us share a great camaraderie with Ravi bhai and would definitely be very happy (to have him around).”
Virat Kohli

"But as I had said, it's on the CAC to decide (how to go about it)," Kohli reiterated.

They may have failed to win the T20 World Cup in 2016 and the ODI World Cup in 2015 and 2019, but the Shastri-Kohli duo helped India climb the top of the Test rankings with a historic series triumph in Australia.

The Committee of Administrators (CoA) running Indian cricket has tasked the Kapil Dev-led ad-hoc committee to pick the next national coach. The ad-hoc body comprise former India captain Kapil, Anshuman Gaekwad and former women's captain Shantha Rangaswamy.

4. Will There be a Solution for the Middle-Order Problem?

Despite a new start after the World Cup disappointment, Kohli admitted that the team is yet to sort out the middle-order conundrum and joked that they might need a "crystal maze".

“I don’t know whether it will have to be explained through a crystal maze,” he said with a laugh.

On a serious note, he felt that the Indian middle-order had been a target of "unfair criticism" being judged on the basis of one or two performances.

"It's very subjective and situation-based. Sometimes you say you have the best top order in the world, which you can agree with; it leads to middle order getting just one or two opportunities, then we judge it based on it. I don't know how to strike balance in it," the skipper said, sounding a bit helpless.

“When it happens with the middle-order, I don’t think it’s right to be so critical of them. We obviously want to find people who can be consistent, who can do the job regularly for us and we have backed the players that we thought are good enough to do the job. And they have.”
Virat Kohli

5. What Will be the Impact of World Test Championship?

Virat said the ICC World Test Championship, that gets underway on August 1, will add context to the longest format and give it a much-needed boost.

"I think it is a great thing for Test cricket to be honest. We all were looking forward to it because we all felt that after one big series or tour, a one-off Test or a couple of Tests were not apt but I think the Test Championship gives a lot of context to all the Test cricket that we want to play," Kohli said at the West Indies tour's pre-departure press conference.

“Interest of the fans will also build going for the results. Test cricket really needed a boost. Players were putting the effort but from a global point of view, Test cricket needed an incentive attached to it which is presented in the form of Test Championship.”
Virat Kohli

"So now every session, every game will be more intense. It will be challenging but it will be all the more exciting. All the teams will enjoy through this entire journey," he added.

The opening day of the Ashes series between England and Australia at Edgbaston on Thursday marks the beginning of the World Test Championship. India will play two Tests during the tour of West Indies and those will be part of the championship.

6. What Will the Focus be on for T20Is & ODIs Against Windies?

Virat said it will be a "very exciting opportunity" for the likes of Chahar brothers and Navdeep Saini to make a mark in the limited overs format during the upcoming tour of the West Indies.

“The T20s as you have seen, the squads, when I met the selectors, the basic message from them was to try out a few players that they had in mind. I think it is a very exciting opportunity for all the guys who are stepping in for the first time.”
Virat Kohli

Deepak and Rahul Chahar, Saini, Shreyas Iyer, Manish Pandey and Washington Sundar are a mixture of new and old faces to have been included in the squad for the limited-overs format.

“The ODI side is more or less balanced and we have been really doing well, the Test side, needless to say the kind of performances we have put in, so I am particularly excited about the three T20s, because as I said new lot of players coming in.”
Virat Kohli

"Some players who have done really well in the format and shown great composure under pressure in tournaments like IPL, domestically as well. So it's a great marker for all those guys and us as a team as well to have them in the squad," the captain added.

(With inputs from PTI)

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