Indian captain Virat Kohli conducted a press conference on Wednesday where he spoke about the upcoming Champions Trophy in England, the team's preparation and the all-important clash against arch-rivals Pakistan. India are the defending champions and Kohli claimed that the tournament involves all the top teams in the world and is the most competitive one at present.
The captain expressed happiness over the team's preparation and credited IPL for helping the players remain match fit. He also displayed confidence in the team to defend the title. Kohli then played down the hype surrounding their upcoming marquee clash with arch-rivals Pakistan in the Champions Trophy, saying it is just another game of cricket for the players.
India will be opening their campaign against Pakistan at the Edgbaston, Birmingham on June 4 amidst tense bilateral relations between the two nations. Asked if playing Pakistan in the current political scenario is a good thing, Kohli said: "What do you think? You seem to have come here with your own mindset. With all due respect, whatever else is going on, as a cricketer, you can't even think about your partner at the other end when you are batting.
Yes its always very exciting for the fans but in our heads nothing changes,its just a game of cricket: Virat Kohli on India-Pak match pic.twitter.com/N0aNlKzahT— ANI (@ANI_news) May 24, 2017
"It's about playing the game. Yes, India-Pakistan is always exciting for the fans. It's different for them. For us, it is just a game of cricket. In our heads nothing really changes, it's exactly the same for us. It's not the first time we are playing against them. Playing for India, you don't need extra motivation."
India have been the dominant side in the World T20 and the 50-over World Cup, leading Pakistan 11-0. However, in the Champions Trophy, Pakistan have a superior record with two wins against India's first win over their rivals coming only in the last edition, in 2013.
I would never play for redemption, I only play to keep winning: Virat Kohli pic.twitter.com/xuHCzJYhUH— ANI (@ANI_news) May 24, 2017
While remembering the last Champions Trophy, Kohli claimed that the tournament had given his team the opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan.
Amazing performance of both the spinners and pace bowlers had emerged as an amazing bonus at that time. Praising the experienced duo of Yuvraj Singh and former Indian captain MS Dhoni, Kohli said that if they play with freedom, it will be a boost for the team's morale.
The Indian captain further said that his team had done well in both Test cricket and T20s and they would aim to carry the momentum forward. Kohli, one of the top batsmen with some exceptional records stated that he will never play for redemption and believed in giving his best for the team in all situations.
The Champions Trophy is scheduled to begin from June 1 when hosts England take on Bangladesh while India will begin their campaign three days later.
The Men in Blue last won the tournament in 2013 when they defeated England in the finals by five runs under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. After playing Pakistan, India are scheduled to play Sri Lanka on June 8 and South Africa on June 11 in London.
With PTI inputs