(Reuters) – Indian captain Virat Kohli brushed off talk of having to prove his batting ability on English soil ahead of the five-match test series against the hosts starting at Edgbaston today.
Kohli struggled to make an impact when India last toured England in 2014, scoring 134 runs in 10 innings, but has since emerged as one of the most reliable batsmen in the world across all three formats of the game.
“I’m not in a frame of mind to prove myself in any country, I just want to perform for the team,” the 29-year-old told a news conference on Tuesday, ahead of what will be England’s 1000th five-day match.
“Obviously I want to score runs for the team and I want to take Indian cricket forward, and that’s my only motive.”
Kohli said he had matured as a person and was not affected by criticism of his performance in the four years since India’s 3-1 series defeat by England.
“Back in the day when I did not know better these things used to bother me because I used to read a lot. But I don’t read anything (anymore),” he said.
“If I waste my energy on these things, I am compromising on my mindset… I need to be in the most clear mental space and that happens when I am focused on what I have to do.” England won the one-day international series between the teams 2-1 and lost the Twenty20 competition by the same margin this month. Kohli refused to say whether his team were the underdogs or the favourites.
India last won a test series in England in 2007, while the hosts are looking for their first series win in four.
“If you’re an underdog it’s not a given that the pressure will only be on the opposition,” Kohli added. “If you’re the favourites it’s not certain that the underdogs will just come out and be fearless the whole time.
“I think it’s a balance that is required and we’ve played enough cricket at this level to understand that.”
England captain Joe Root said his team was ready to rise to the challenge of taking on India.
“That is where we’re at, five games against the world number one (test) side where we can make a statement if we play well and win,” Root said.
“You can see that hunger in the dressing room. It feels like we’re in a good place. Now it’s just about delivering.”