Mumbai: The Indian team is gearing up for one of it’s biggest challenges in the past few years-the highly anticipated tour of South Africa and skipper Virat Kohli feels that he and his boys have nothing to prove when they take on the Proteas in the three-match Test series beginning on January 5.
India are yet to win a Test series in South Africa for the past 25 years, with a 1-1 draw being their best finish in the 2010-2011 series.
“We have got rid of all the mental pressures of touring abroad and wanting to prove to people. We are not wanting to prove anything to anyone and our duty is to go out there, give our 100 per cent effort for the country and get the result that we want to,” said Kohli, at the pre-departure press conference on Wednesday.
He further stressed on the fact that one needs to be realistic to understand that, “sometimes the team will get results and sometimes it won’t”.
He said, “We need to be realistic with what we are doing and that the only way we will be staying in the present and execute the things we want to. We are going there to just play cricket and it does not matter whether we are in South Africa, Australia, England or India.”
The 29-year-old also said that to be able to perform in challenging conditions gives one more job satisfaction. “When you do things in conditions that are more challenging, that gives you more job satisfaction, that is for sure,” Kohli added.
Over all these years, the Indians have found it hard to tackle the bounce on the South African pitches and the fact that they have won just two Test matches in the, ‘Rainbow Nation’ so far speaks for itself.
But Kohli said that it all depended on the mindset one has as a batsman.
“It all depends on the kind of mindset you get into as batsman. Any place, even Indian conditions can be very difficult if you are not in a good frame of mind, so cricket is played with ball and bat and if you are not there mentally, it does not matter the conditions you are playing in.
“You need to take up challenges mentally and then every conditions seem like home conditions. If you get accustomed to where you are going and you start feeling comfortable embracing the culture, people, it becomes easier,” he said.
Kohli had been amongst the runs in India’s 2013-2014 tour to South Africa where he had ended up as the second-highest run-getter in the two-match Test series with 272 runs, eight behind Cheteshwar Pujara who topped the list with 280 runs.
Emphasising on the need to maintain that “excitement” as a batsman in order to perform well, Kohli said, “I only played Test cricket once in South Africa but I was looking forward to it. (Cheteshwar) Pujara was as well, so was Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane). So we ended up doing well because we were excited about what we were going to do and that excitement is very important to maintain.”
The skipper held that although the Indian team haven’t played much cricket outside the sub-continent, his boys are confident of a good show.
He said, “We are talking about a wholly different prospect over here, which we understand as a team and we are looking forward to it. Every tour is a chance, if you look at the teams which have gone to South Africa in the past, I mean you are talking about some of the biggest names in Indian cricket, it’s not like that was not like a chance.”
“You need to play really good cricket for a very long period of time to win series and that is something that we are pretty excited about and we want to go out there and express ourselves. The most important thing is that we are enjoying each other’s company and that’s exactly what we are looking to do,” he added further.
Kohli admitted the fact that the South African bowling attack in the 2013-2014 series which comprised of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel was more experienced. Kagiso Rabada, South Africa’s latest pace sensation has been performing consistently well and with both Steyn and Morkel returning from injuries, the Proteas bowling would indeed be a threat.
“The bowling attack back then compared to now what South Africa has was more experienced and we did really well against them. We almost won the Test in Jo’burg (Johannesburg), it was a close game, we lost in Durban, but we played some really good Test cricket.
“The bowling and the batting has come a long way, all the guys are much more experienced now, but the hunger remains the same, we still want to go back and try to do what we couldn’t do last time around,” he said.