Despite losing the series 2-3, the Indian think tank is clear about their playing XI going into the World Cup which begins in May, skipper Virat Kohli revealed on Wednesday.
India suffered their first loss in an ODI series at home since 2015 after Australia beat them by 35 runs to win the fifth and final ODI on Wednesday and secure a 3-2 victory in the series. But skipper Virat Kohli was not giving any excuses and said that the defeat has not had any bearing on the Indian team’s vision of which players will be in the playing XI at World Cup come June.
“The last three games, the idea was to give the guys on the bench a bit of game time and just put them in those positions and see how they react. Changes will never be an excuse,” Kohli said.
“As a side, combination wise we are sorted. Only one change can be expected in the playing eleven during the World Cup that too depending on the conditions. Apart from that, we are clear about the playing XI going into the tournament. Just one spot in the side that needs some discussion but as a side, we are pretty balanced. Once Hardik Pandya returns it options a variety of options. Just that we need to take better decisions when under pressure to go far into the World Cup,” Kohli explained.
“None of the guys in the change room are panicking or feeling down after this defeat because we know things that we wanted to do in the last three encounters purely because the World Cup is ahead. As a side, we feel pretty balanced,” the skipper added.
Complementing the opposition, Kohli said, “The fact that Australia came and won here, it had to be a hard-fought series. They played better cricket than us and they deserved to win the last three games.”
“In the first two, we showed composure, to be honest, it doesn’t feel like something off has happened because we have been playing such good cricket and have lost 3 out 5 where the other team has been more passionate and energetic than us in pressure moments. That’s probably the only breakdown I can give of the last three matches,” he added.
Analysing the difference between the two sides, Kohli said, “It’s exactly how we played in Australia. Back then we were braver in pressure situations in Australia. Purely because they had a series to lose at home and we expressed. Here when they sensed that they had a foot in the door they made sure that they didn’t let us close the door on the series. Compared to us they are more inexperienced but showed more heart and deserved to win.”
Praising his team the skipper went on to say, “It’s good we have had these losses, to correct these at the World Cup. The guys will reflect on this series quite a bit. We have been playing a lot of games on the road. That does take a toll but can’t be an excuse. We can be proud of the cricket that we’ve played in the last few months. The series didn’t go well yes, but we’ve played well.”
Looking ahead at the World Cup, Kohli refused to single out any team as the favourites. “I don’t think any team in my eyes starts as World Cup favourites. Every team is a threat because anyone who gets on a roll in the World Cup it very difficult to stop that team. Having said that the same team can be knocked out in the semis or quarter-finals. You have to play good cricket and take good decisions to win the cup. West Indies have come along pretty well and they will be a serious threat in the World Cup. England is a strong side, Australia are looking balanced, New Zeland are a strong team too. Pakistan can defeat anyone on their day. I think it’s important to understand what mindset you take into the World Cup.”