2019 will be my toughest World Cup: Kohli

New Delhi, May 21: Before leaving for the World Cup, Indian skipper Virat Kohli said that the upcoming 50-over tournament is going to be his toughest stint at the biggest stage of world cricket.

"This is going to be my toughest World Cup," Kohli said at the pre-departure press conference. 

"Certainly most challenging World Cup of the two I have played considering the format of the tournament. Also if you look at all the teams, they are really close. Even someone like Afghanistan have made so much progress in 2015. Every game will have to play best to our potential, its a different challenge which everyone will have to adapt to," he added.

India are expected to face a tough time in the early stages of their campaign as they face four tough teams back to back. They start with a game against title contenders South Africa on June 5 before meeting defending champions and perennial favourites Australia, New Zealand and arch-rivals Pakistan.

Kohli however, asserted that he is comfortable with the schedule as there are plenty of rest time between the league matches.

“It’s going to be challenging, but the good thing is that there’s a decent gap between every game. Players won’t be burnt out. We’ll always have time to regroup. We have four tough games straight up and that will set the tone for us. We don’t have any room for complacency, and that’s why it’s the World Cup. You have to arrive on the day, match-ready. This is the challenge," he said.

"Good thing is there is gap between two games, so even if you have a hectic game then you have the time to regroup and get together, We have four tough games to start with so that should get the ball rolling. We have to be match ready and show intensity right from ball 1. That's the challenge, if we get on a roll and then maintain consistency, we should be able to do it,” Kohli added.

The Indian skipper also opined that handling pressure will be crucial at the World Cup.

"Handling pressure is the most important thing in the World Cup and not necessarily the conditions. All our bowlers are fresh, no one looks fatigued," he remarked.

"It's always good to go to any place in advance, it does get rid of all the nerves you have in the side going into the tournament like the World Cup.  White-ball cricket, playing in England, playing an ICC tournament, the conditions are not that different or that difficult I would say, compared to Test cricket."

Kuldeep Yaday has struggled with his form during the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), but Kohli was confident that the left-arm spinner will get into his grove before the Indians get down to business at the most prestigious stage in world cricket.

"Someone like Kuldeep has had such success, he needs to see the other side also. Glad it happened during the IPL then the World Cup. He is one of the pillars along with Chahal for our bowling. Same for Jadhav,he wasn't playing in the best of pitches and T20 is such a format. Im sure they are in a good headspace, in World Cup its more about handling the pressure and ensuring we stay focussed," he felt.

Kohli also asserted that the men in blue will have to maintain their intensity throughout the tournament if they are to win the trophy.

"All our bowlers have been preparing with the 50 over World Cup. Even during the IPL, if you see none of our bowlers looked tired as they have been preparing to bowl in a 50 over game. That was made clear to them before the tournament," he said.

"In football player maintain their intensity for three-four months, like in the Premier League or La Liga," the Indian skipper added.

News24 Bureau

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