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I’m 100 percent fit and looking forward to the England tour: Virat Kohli

CricketI'm 100 percent fit and looking forward to the England tour: Virat Kohli

NEW DELHI: Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli has squashed all rumours and doubts surrounding his fitness. Addressing the media on the eve of the team’s departure for the tour of England, Kohli announced that he has completely recovered from the injury sustained during the IPL, and that the break has provided him ample time to prepare for the tough tour that lies ahead.

Britain Cricket - India - Virat Kohli Press Conference - The Grange Hotel, London - 25/5/17 India's Virat Kohli with the ICC Champions Trophy during the press conference Action Images via Reuters / Tony O'Brien Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Britain Cricket – India – Virat Kohli Press Conference – The Grange Hotel, London – 25/5/17 India’s Virat Kohli with the ICC Champions Trophy during the press conference Action Images via Reuters / Tony O’Brien Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY.

“I’m 100 percent ready to go. The neck is fine now. I’ve had six to seven sessions in Mumbai and I’m absolutely ready to go. I went through the fitness test as well and the body is feeling fine. I’m actually very excited to get back onto the field, which is a very rare feeling when you play so much of cricket. But in hindsight, these breaks really help. It freshens you up and gets you pumped to get back out there again,” Kohli said.

The Indian captain was set for his maiden county stint for Surrey before a neck injury, but his much-hyped participation was ruled out in May. After undergoing a three-week rehabilitation, Kohli underwent the YoYo Test – basic fitness parameter set by the team management before any tour – and successfully cleared it. Kohli didn’t look in any discomfort while taking the advanced beep test as he matched MS Dhoni step for step along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Kedar Jadhav and Suresh Raina.

Kohli did not mince words, and pointed out that although he would have loved to experience the challenging English conditions, he is glad to have given his body time to recover and head into the two-month long tour fresh.

“In hindsight when I look at it, I think what has happened was in my best interest. Yes, I wanted to go and experience the conditions in England; that’s a place we haven’t played to our potential. It’s been four years since we last went there and one tends to forget how the scenario is like there. I wanted to witness the difficult phase of those conditions, like which Pujara and Ishant played in,” Kohli added.

“But if I was 90 percent with my body and used to the conditions as compared to being 110 now and going in fresh, I would much rather be in this position. More than anything, you need to be fresh and attain 100 percent fitness before a long tour such as this.”

India embark on a gruelling two-month long tour of England, where they play five Tests, three ODIs and three T20 internationals. For the first time since the 2002 tour, the Indian team will be playing white-ball cricket before Test matches in England, beginning with a couple of T20Is against Ireland on Wednesday.

India got the better of England in the ODI leg during their last trip – they won 3-2 – but the spike in England’s ODI form will not allow Kohli to take them lightly. Their 4-0 drubbing of Australia in the ongoing ODI series with one to play, followed by Aaron Finch’s comment of calling this England side the “best in the world” promises to make the series a lot more competitive than last time around.

However, the fact that the England-Australia series has been a run-fest, with England registering totals of 342, 481 and 314 and Australia coming close with 310 and 304 while chasing, the trend of big totals have taken over world cricket. Flat pitches and the concept of two new balls haven’t really been in the interest of bowlers either, a topic which Kohli weighed in on.
“It’s brutal for the bowlers; hardly any room for attacking cricket is left from the bowlers’ point of view if you don’t provide pitches that assist them with the new balls. I have played ODI cricket at the time when only one white ball was allowed. It used to be a massive factor towards the latter part of the innings. As a batsman, it was a lot more challenging. It is very difficult for the bowlers and they have no way out, unless you have wrist spinners in the side, which is something we have found out. But not every side has that caution,” the Indian captain said.
All that however, changes once the Test series commences on August 1. India endured a horrible series in 2014, going down 1-3 after winning the second Test at Lord’s, with Kohli and the rest of the team surrendering to the swing of James Anderson and Stuart Broad. Facing the same attack with same force will not be a walk in the park for the Indian. Kohli though firmly believes that the team would have adapted well by then given the experience of playing a good enough number of T20Is and ODIs.

“The swinging ball has the tendency to trouble the best of batsmen. But then that helps our fast bowlers as well. As a batting unit, it will be a challenge to square off against the swinging ball, but by the time the Test series arrive, we won’t feel like we are playing an away series because by then, we would have already played plenty of limited-overs cricket already,” Kohli said.
“As a captain of the team, I would like to put in performances myself. I think a lot of people have been thinking about the 2014 tour for too long now. We played the Champions Trophy in England last year, not in Bangladesh. And after what happened during the Tests in South Africa, we are looking to play difficult cricket because that is the only way we can improve.”

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