The participation of English players in the IPL has only increased the “warmth” among rival players but on field, India skipper Virat Kohli expects a high intensity battle between both teams during the long tour beginning here tomorrow.
While Jos Buttler stood out amongst the England players in the IPL, Kohli said the league helped them break the ice and know their rivals better.
It (the IPL) is going to make relations between the two teams even better. I think because England haven’t played so much IPL cricket, there was never that familiarity or that sort of warmth between the two teams as much as we have with the other teams,” said Kohli on eve of the first T20 of the three-match series.
“Purely because we didn’t know the guys enough to be able to have conversations with them. I think this season has broken that barrier to a great extent. I heard lot of people are keen to go and play and they should. Why not, it’s a great league to play in. As Jos has been saying for months now, it has done great things to his mindset and he’s taking that on in every format, Kohli was all praise of the England batsman.
Kohli is not all surprised with Buttler’s recent success.
I am not surprised the way Jos has played. I mean we’ve all known about his ability in the past as well. It is just that he’s got more opportunity to play for Rajasthan Royals in this season to show his skillset, and he’s certainly enjoying that role at the top of the order.
“It was lovely to watch him play because when you gain momentum in this format, and you continue for that long, it always feels good to watch. From that point of view, I really enjoyed watching him bat. Apart from that, Chris Woakes and Moeen Ali were in our team (Royal Challengers Bangalore) as well. We had a great time together,” said Kohli.
India had it easy against Ireland but England will be a tough side to beat.
Over the last three years, England have resurrected their limited-overs’ fortunes and are one of the most attacking outfits in ODIs/T20Is in world cricket currently.
Kohli said that the experience of playing in different T20 leagues, especially in the IPL, is a contributing factor towards the same and singled out Buttler as an example.
“It doesn’t matter, if you are batting first, whether you have 170 or 230 on the board. The opposition has to get in. If you have a target in mind or in front of you, then you play accordingly. We have enough T20 experience to know what to do when, he said about England’s penchant for high scores.
On the personal front, Kohli did not have a great time in England four years ago but he has not set a target for himself.
Surprisingly or funnily, I don’t think from fans’ or outside point of view. Even when we came here for the Champions Trophy, that was the first question that was asked and my reply was, I am just looking forward to having a good time here. It doesn’t matter whether I get runs or don’t get runs.
“What I want is the team to play well and the team to win. Obviously you want to perform as an individual. But I haven’t set any benchmarks or targets and come here to do certain things which have to be special just because the last tour here, I came on didn’t go well.”
A neck injury forced Kohli to pull out of his hyped county stint ahead of the tour but the star batsman now feels he did not miss much.
Looking at the weather, not at all. I mean it is as dry as I’ve seen it ever. And the point was that we haven’t played in those wet and damp conditions ever as a team. Having spoken to the guys who’ve come here and played, they said it was a great experience for them learning a lot more things about their game.
“I spoke with Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma as well who’ve been here before. They said it is a great setup to be a part of. It is a great time to play cricket there. As a cricketer, you look for new challenges every now and then. That’s something that I wanted to go and experience because we don’t get to play so much cricket here before we come on tour,” he said.
Keeping the 2019 World Cup in mind, Kohli said India will keep experimenting on the tour.
With that major tournament coming, it gives you an opportunity to test your bench strength, try out fringe players and test their characters as well.
“We are certainly going to try a lot of cricketers as well in the T20 matches, test their characters, test their skills and work out accordingly who will be the next lot to come in, especially to the limited overs format and from there on, they can build on it and play test cricket as well.