India captain Virat Kohli ruled out the prospect of looking at the upcoming New Zealand series as an opportunity to exact revenge for the World Cup semi-final defeat last year, and heaped praise on his opposite number Kane Williamson and his team.
India's campaign at the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 was brought to an end by New Zealand, who edged past the two-time world champions by 18 runs in the first semi-final to proceed to their second successive final. While the memories of that game are still fresh, Kohli admitted that it's difficult to view this series as an opportunity to settle scores owing to New Zealand's 'nice' nature.
"Honestly, even if you want to think of revenge, these guys are so nice, you can't get into that zone," Kohli said on Thursday, 23 January. "They are probably the side that has set the right example for teams to play at the international level and how they should carry themselves.
"They're a quality side and we have a lot of respect for them and vice versa as well, I think they have a lot of respect for us. I don't think this is about any kind of revenge at all, I think it is just two quality sides playing good cricket. It's a challenge for us to beat New Zealand here and something that we are totally up for."
India come fresh from a 2-1 ODI series against Australia at home, and Kohli, now sets his focus on the shortest format, with less nine months to go for the ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2020 in Australia.
"We played a few T20s before that (Australia series), but having played a lot more than you play in a T20 game the last three games, I think we will find it a bit easier to just come here, even with less time, and just be on the park and be our best as a team."
"We're looking forward to that, starting the T20s, because this is the year of the World Cup, so every T20's important."
💬 "It's an absolute dream to play for New Zealand and every time you do miss out it hurts, but you've got to respect the decisions and try to help out and give back to the team, even when you're not playing."— ICC (@ICC) January 22, 2020
ICYMI 👇 https://t.co/QVwbORy952
As for New Zealand, their recent performances in the Test series in Australia have raised a few questions over the leadership of Kane Williamson. The skipper however, wishes to continue to lead across the three formats, while stating that he's prepared for any decision taken for the team's good.
"I do feel fortunate to be leading such a great group of guys that share a similar passion, which is to keep moving this team forward," Williamson said. "I'm not the only one that is trying to lead that – there are a number of other guys, senior players and some younger guys who obviously share the passion, and that's encouraged in the group. The leadership thing is a collective approach … it is enjoyable and you do learn so much about yourself and about the team.
"Without a doubt there are a number of challenges that come throughout that period that you are in the job, and I've been in it for some time now, and you are forever dealing with those challenges. It's part and parcel of the job, but for me the focus is very much helping the team to grow and move in the right direction."
Kohli though, extended full support to Williamson, empathising with the burden of captaincy across the three formats.
"These kinds of things do come up every now and then, whenever you have a setback. I think its a part of having that responsibility of captaining in all three formats," he said.
"I don't think leadership can always be determined by the results. It's also about how you can get the team together and get the guys functioning under you as well, which I think Kane has done wonderfully well."
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