Indian captain Virat Kohli believes his team has the bowling attack to take ten wickets every time they step on the field but it's their batting group that will have to take more ownership and responsibility in Australia. The 30-year-old made it clear that the batsmen will have to plan as a unit rather than focusing too much on individual performances at the pre-departure briefing for the tour of Australia.
“We are focused on how the batsmen can bat well together and not just individually. Bowlers are in a good space and after a long time we have an attack which is capable of picking 20 wickets,” Kohli said.
“If we look at the England tour, apart from Lord’s, we didn’t get bundled out in a Test. We batted well in patches through the series. But when we don’t bat well as a team, we fall down and lose and mentally it takes a toll on you.”
Kohli also revealed that the team management has spoken with all the players and have told them to focus on the present rather than dwelling over their past failures.
“The idea is to always live in the present and not to focus on the past,” he said. “We went through a difficult time in 2014 but we came out of that shell. It has happened with me in the past as well. We are always trying to stay in the present because we have the talent. These are just the little things that we need to solidify.”
India will commence their tour with three Twenty20 Internationals before the focus shifts to the blockbuster four-match Test series, starting in Adelaide from December 6.
The main reason India managed to compete in South Africa and England is because of their bowlers. The likes of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Umesh Yadav, even R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja to an extent, have done a very good job for their team in the last couple of tours. Taking a leaf out of South Africa's book, Kohli said India have a solid bowling attack but they will need good support from the batting unit as well.
"From the last time we went there the fitness level is way up which I think is the most important factor in Australia,” he said. “The ball doesn't move too much and it can get boring sometimes, so it's about patience and it's about maintaining that pace at which you start. That's why South Africa have done well there because Morkel and Kallis back in the days, now Rabada, these guys have relentlessly bowled in the right areas on those wickets.
"Our guys are capable enough to do similar kind of job but again I don't want to focus too much on that because yes, we are feeling good about that we have a great bowling attack now but the batsmen need to step up as well. We want to put up complete performance and that should last till the end of the series, but for that to happen people will have to take more ownership. Our focus will be more on how our batsmen perform because our bowlers are in a great space. We feel like we can take 10 wickets every game but the combination will have to be there, not just for one game, but for the entire series."
Kohli said the team management have told every batsman what they expect from them and the onus is on now individuals to come up with consistent performances.
"I know from the management point of view, the things have been explained in a proper manner where people are told what needs to be done in the situation but if I am told that it's a difficult situation and I need to find a way, no one can tell me every ball what shot I need to play. No one can tell me the decisions I make every ball. At that moment, the focus should be on what the team wants," he explained.
"If the individual are focused on what the team wants, they do something special in the tough time. When you win Test matches, you see that kind of performances. But it's about remembering that, why we won that Test match, it's about learning from victories. We need to get more consistent as a team. Visions will be provided but the decision making is an individual thing."
Kohli advised the team's lower-order to take a cue from their England Test defeat and come up with more sizeable contributions in Australia. It was England's lower-order's contribution that made a huge difference in the Test series.
"At the top it can get difficult sometimes, it's a bit easier for the middle order but the lower order contributions are crucial. We saw that in England, their lower order's contributions were much higher than ours and that turned out to be the difference. We want out guys to be fearless. That's the best place to bat, if they can get going they can change the whole course of the match or the series. That's something that we need to tighten up after England."
Kohli thinks the team has made decent progress but will have to work on the extreme mistakes they made in England.
"Personally, I feel that we have made decent progress but there's still a lot of room for improvement,” he said. “We understand within the group that what we need to work on. There was a lot of things that we sat down and figured out after England, what went wrong. To be honest, there wasn't much that went wrong in England but whatever wasn't right, was quite extreme.
“We played good cricket but the mistakes were also very extreme and that's why we lost that many games. We need to strike a decent balance when the situation is against us, how to control it better and how to find a way out of it rather than wanting to get out of it immediately. Those are little things that we need to work on."
Kohli said he now doesn't feel the need to engage himself into an "immature" argument on the field, saying the captaincy is enough to charge him up.
"When it comes to getting engaged in an argument on the field, I have been completely okay playing without an altercation. I have enough belief in my abilities.. those were very immature things I used to feed on when I was younger," he said. "We were always the ones giving it back. As long as it does not start, we will not go out looking for anything but we will reciprocate."
Meanwhile, head coach Ravi Shastri said that there won't be any more "chopping and changing" with the One-Day International side with just 13 games remaining before the World Cup.
"We will try to play (those) 15, who will go to the World Cup. Chopping and changing is over now. The grace period is over now," Shastri made it clear during the pre-departure press conference ahead of the Australian tour. Now it is the time to really get focussed and play as a unit and then hopefully not have too many injuries so that we don't have to look elsewhere and take it from there. We don't have too many games now. We have 13 games, so we will look to play the best team at all times."