'We feel balanced' - Kohli downplays Australia defeat
Australia reversed their ODI series defeat to India at home earlier this year by winning the series decider by 35 runs at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Wednesday, 13 March. But India's defeat, which comes after a 2-0 loss in the Twenty20 International series last month, hasn't jolted the team's plans for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019, insisted captain Kohli.
"None of the guys in the change room are panicking, the support staff is not feeling down after this defeat," he told reporters after the match. "Because we know the things that we were wanting to do in these last three games.
ICYMI, Australia became just the fifth team to come back from 2-0 down in an ODI series to win 3-2!— ICC (@ICC) March 14, 2019
"As a side, [we] feel balanced. It's just that in the pressure moments, they showed more composure than us.
"It doesn't feel like something off has happened because we've been playing such good cricket. We've lost three games in a five-game series where the other team has really been more passionate and more energetic than us in the pressure moments, and they've grabbed the crucial moments in the game better than us. And they deserve to win."
With one eye on the World Cup, India tried out several different combinations throughout the series. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was rested for the first two ODIs, Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant took turns to occupy middle-order slots, even as MS Dhoni was rested for the last two games and Yuzvendra Chahal sat out.
Kohli insisted that India are "sorted" with their team combinations and there will be "maximum one change" from the squad that played this series. "As a side, we're balanced. Hardik Pandya will come back to the team. With him, there's batting depth, and bowling option opens up," he explained.
"We know where we have to go as a combination. The XI is clear in our head. We just have to take better decisions in pressure situations to go far in the World Cup.
"When you look at these games, them being international games, whoever plays, whoever gets a chance a play, we expect that guy to take responsibility and pressure. And hence you expose these kind of guys to pressure situations where a series is on the line and you expect someone to step up. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't."
This was India's final ODI series before the quadrennial event in England and Wales and with a two-month IPL season coming up, the workload of the players ahead of the marquee tournament will have to be managed. Kohli left the onus on the players.
"All the workload will be monitored during the World Cup – and given a window, the guys can afford to rest," he said. "I can guarantee that because a World Cup comes every four years and we play IPL every year. Not to say we won't be committed to the IPL but we've got to be smart. We have to work in balance and take smart decisions.
"The responsibility and the onus is on the player. No-one will be forced to do something. Eventually everyone will know no-one wants to miss the World Cup and cost the team good balance."