The two-time champions open their campaign against South Africa today (Wednesday) and are the last side to begin their World Cup campaign. South Africa have already played twice but are seeking their first win of the tournament following defeats to England and Bangladesh.
Despite that, the Proteas are now dialled in to English conditions but Kohli insists his side are ready and has backed them to adjust quickly in Southampton. “It’s an advantage in terms of understanding how the games have gone, what the conditions offer and what is the pace of play,” he said.
“From that point of view, we have a lot to absorb. We have a lot of positives that we can take out of starting after everyone else. There has been lots to learn in terms of composure. The teams that are the most composed are winning games.
“If you just say the word World Cup it brings a different kind of feeling to your mind and heart. There’s some anticipation, excitement and a little bit of nerves, which is the right combination.”
For Kohli, who is playing in his third ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup but captaining for the first time, the occasion is even more special than usual. The 30-year-old is looking forward to embracing the extra pressure that comes with leading the world’s most expectant nation.
“I am feeling grateful that I am in this position, to have the opportunity to lead my country in a tournament like the World Cup. I am really looking forward to the challenge,” he said.
“It’s a different kind of responsibility. You need to absorb a lot more and it is something really exciting me to have these kinds of challenges at this stage in my career.”
Having played ODI cricket for a decade, Kohli now believes he has the experience to lead a team through a long tournament, where there is not much room to make mistakes.
“Looking at the length of the tournament and the format, it will be tough for any captain, including myself. You have to think on your feet and adapt very quickly. You have to be precise and make good decisions,” he said.
“We selected a side that gives us all kinds of options, depending on conditions. We selected the most balanced side we could have selected.
“We know with our bowling attack, any score is defendable, with the skill-set that we have,” Kohli said.
“Our flexibility will happen in the bowling line-up, the batting line-up will have to be consistent and the guys understand that they will have to play different roles at different stages in the tournament.”