India will focus on starting their T20I series against New Zealand, which will kick off the month-long, all-format tour of the country, with “intensity”, Virat Kohli said on the eve of their departure to Auckland.
In the short ODI series at home against Australia, India batted first with mixed results in the first two matches, before sealing the third one in a chase. One way or other, Kohli said, India wanted to go into the New Zealand series with clarity and purpose.
“We want to bat well when we bat first and in case we’re defending a low total, we should be able to do that as well,” Kohli said. “[…] Clarity of mind is really crucial because we’re playing in conditions that are not ours, so we have to take even more intensity into that series to put the home team under pressure, set that sort of template from game one and build from there.
“We can’t afford to ease into the series after two games, because then it keeps getting tougher and tougher, so we’ll look to make a mark in the first game that we play, play expressive cricket and be sure of what we want to do.”
India lost their first ODI against Australia by ten wickets before coming back to win the series 2-1. Kohli said that during the huddle ahead of the final ODI against Australia in Bengaluru on Sunday, the team discussed going to New Zealand on a happy note, and beating a team like Australia was vital ahead of a tough tour.
“It’s important. We spoke of that at the huddle, that this is the last game we’re playing in the series and if we win, you go on a tour on a happy note,” Kohli said. “If you lose, it can go under the radar, you can brush it aside as ‘oh it’s just one loss’, but when you win and win under pressure – the last two games were tough wins – it boosts your confidence which we’re carrying forward, so looking forward to the New Zealand tour.”
India last toured New Zealand almost exactly a year ago and began with a 4-1 win in the ODI series, but New Zealand won the T20I series that followed. That tour came in the lead up to last year’s ODI World Cup, and the number of matches in each format are reverse this year, with the T20 World Cup scheduled for later in the year.
“[On the last tour] we were very positive in how we played, very sure of what we wanted to do,” Kohli said. “The thing about playing away is if you’re able to put the home team under pressure, you can enjoy your cricket. You have to win at home, there’s that sort of feeling. So if you bring out your A game, you can really put them under pressure.
“That’s what we did last year, squeezed them in the middle overs, picked up wickets, and the spinners were outstanding. Looking forward to take that same intensity into the series. We’ve played really well in 2020, want to continue that.”