ICC Champions Trophy 2017, India vs Pakistan: Virat Kohli hints at Hardik Pandya's inclusion in playing XI
India captain Virat Kohli has dropped hints of including all-rounder Hardik Pandya into the playing XI for the marquee ICC Champions Trophy 2017 clash against arch-rivals Pakistan in Birmingham on Sunday. Kohli on Saturday termed the worry about getting a perfect bowling combination in place as a "good headache" to have going into the big game against Pakistan. "I think that's been on my mind in the last five or six days. The most out of anything else, you know, who to play, because in both the (warm-up) games all the guys have bowled beautifully and the attack looks really balanced. But how they come into the equation, as apart from an all-rounder, you can only play four bowlers," Kohli said at the pre-match press conference.
"There are all kinds of possibilities -- two spinners, two fast bowlers, three fast bowlers, Hardik and a spinner. So we will see what the wicket is like and what we feel is going to match up well against the opposition. The intensity was right up there (during warm-ups), and that's something that was really nice to see for me as a captain. It's a good headache to have," said Kohli.
Cliched it may sound, Kohli finds an Indo-Pak match just like any other match.
"Nothing different, to be honest. I know it sounds pretty boring, but this is exactly what we feel as cricketers. We are not saying anything different to what we feel. And for us it's a matter of executing what we know best regardless of who we are playing against. And I'm sure every team thinks like that."
"So in a tournament like this, you can't pick and choose, and in general cricketers don't pick and choose. We prepare the same way and we take the same mindset into every game that we play for India," he added.
"And as I have said before, you need to be 100 per cent motivated playing for the country regardless of who you're playing with. So yeah, the mindset does not change."
Kohli agreed that since India do not play Pakistan regularly, there could be an element of surprise but players should be equipped to react to the situation.
"As a team, I think, yeah, they (Pakistan) can surprise you because, as you said, you don't play against them so much. But you know of their abilities. So you are not too aware of how they react in different situations. All you can do in that situation is focus on your skill, which anyway you should do as a team," he said.
As a part of preparation process, Kohli believes in keeping it simple while some others do their homework watching videos.
"As individuals, some people like to watch videos and go through bowlers and batsmen and all that. Some people don't. I personally don't. If a cricket ball has been bowled, you should be good enough to handle it, whether it's bowled by someone you play regularly or you don't."
Kohli loves the challenge from an unknown entity.
"You would rather take that up as a bigger challenge that you'll have to come up with the kind of bowling that you don't play often. And you have to test yourself against that kind of attack and say I'm going to come out on top and, you know, prove to myself how good I can be when surprises like these come along," Kohli said.
Kohli termed both Edgbaston and Oval wickets as good strips as no total can be safe.
"When we played at The Oval, I think it was a little bit different from Birmingham. The game I saw yesterday (Australia vs NZ), the ball was coming on pretty nicely," he said.
"The bowlers found it difficult, and that's why I think they had different feels right in the powerplay at the beginning of the game. So that becomes a big factor in terms of, especially the bowling attack, where you're going to execute what you want to and how to contain the batsmen. I don't think in shorter format cricket any total is safe in this day and age," he explained.