Asseverating that the Indian team is not afraid of countering tough situations, a confident Virat Kohli said ahead of the 1st Test that they have the skill set, character and mental toughness to excel in overseas conditions.The skipper said the Indian team is fired up for the five-Test series against England, beginning on August 1.
"We have the skill sets, character and mental toughness which is required to compete and win in overseas conditions. How we played in South Africa gave us a lot of confidence. Obviously countries like England and Australia provide you with a test that's difficult. The only way to look at it is you have to be optimistic, said Kohli on the eve of the first Test.
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Kohli stated that the ODIs gave the Indian team ample time to understand the conditions and are in the right frame of mind as they take on England in Birmingham.
"Our preparations have been good. Those playing ODIs got lots of time to adjust while those who have come only for Tests got time to prepare well too. They played India-A matches and the practice game too was good. All of us are in a good frame of mind. We are all excited."
His words echoed that of coach Ravi Shastri who has gone on to say that he wants this Indian team to be the best travelling side in world cricket. With a 1-2 loss in South Africa earlier this year, and a tour to Australia following, this becomes a massive midway point for India's 2018 season.
"It's a young team which has played a lot of matches. It's a very rare combination to find. We are comfortable with where we stand and as a team are we are pretty confident of our abilities," said the skipper.
Kohli said a long series will give both the sides enough opportunities to revise the strategy.
"This is a five-match series and not a two or three-match series where if things go wrong in one match, desperation sinks in. In such a long series, you can be patient enough to turn things around. From that point of view, all of us are relaxed," he said.
The star player said that professionalism and consistency will be the key to winning the series in England rather than paying attention to the tags of favourites or underdogs.
India last won a Test series on English soil in 2007, while they lost the previous two contests in 2011 and 2014. In their bid to reaffirm their world number one ranking, Kohli and company will be out to spoil the English party who celebrate their 1000th Test at Edgbaston.
"It doesn't matter whether you are the favourites or the underdog, you still have to go out, perform and do well on the field. If you are an underdog it's not a given that pressure will only be on the opposition. Or, if you are the favourites, it's not certain that the underdogs will come out and be fearless the whole time.
"I think it's the balance that's required. We played enough cricket to understand that these are things that happen on the outside. Whether you want to act as an underdog or the favourite, it's actually in your own head, said Kohli.
There are a few selection headaches for India in the lead up to this first Test. They have to contend with the issue of an out-of-form top order as well as decide whether they want to go with a single spinner or two.
Despite the absence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, their bench strength in fast bowling has been consistently talked up ahead of this series.
While England have named their playing eleven, Kohli though didn't reveal his cards.
"It all boils down to your gut feel. If five people on the table agree that this is the right thing to do for the team, then we go ahead with that, there are no ifs and buts. There's no looking back. If we take a decision today we're not going to sit down tomorrow and say, 'Oh we could have done that.' We don't act like that. That's why we've been pushing forward as a team."
Talking about his pace attack, he added, "I think our bowling attack has matured over the years. They've gained experience of playing all around the world and understanding conditions, pitches and opposition batsmen as well. They are pretty comfortable with their games, pretty much what happens with the batsmen as well.
"So our bowlers have come a long way from the last time we toured all these countries. They've understood how to bowl in partnerships. It's not about outdoing the other guy but help keeping him in a great spell. I think all this they've understood over the years. We are pretty happy to have so much depth in our bowling this time around, he said.
(With PTI Inputs)