India’s captain Virat Kohli has urged his team to forget the 124-run drubbing they inflicted on old rivals Pakistan in the group stage of the Champions Trophy ahead of the teams’ sell-out final at The Oval on Sunday.
That overwhelming triumph may be regarded as giving Kohli’s team a psychological advantage but he insisted at a news conference on Saturday that it meant nothing.
“I don’t see any relevance of the first game here because you can never tell how a particular team starts a tournament,” he told reporters.
“Some teams start very confidently and then they fade off. Some teams might not have the best starts, and they come back amazingly, which Pakistan has done.
“So everyone is aware of the kind of talent they have in their team, and on their day they can beat any side in the world.
“At the same time, neither are we too intimidated nor are we too arrogant about what we are doing.”
Like any meeting of the two countries, the final will attract enormous interest in the cricket-mad sub-continent, but the experienced Kohli is treating that just as matter-of-factly.
“It’s been quite a few years I’ve been dealing with that, so nothing new,” he said.
“You can’t think of those things when you step onto the field. I know there are people that expect the team and myself to do well every time that we play, but I understand as a player and as a person that it’s not possible.
“This is a part of being an Indian cricketer.
“You have to maintain a balance and then focus on what you need to do on the field.”
If anything, India have tried to distance themselves from all the noise by ignoring social media.
“It’s so important to stay away from those things,” the captain added.
“You have to make that sort of effort to stay in a good zone and a good mindset. I’ve learnt a lot how to handle certain things. And that can only happen when you’re able to connect with yourself first.
“If you’re too distracted listening to too many suggestions or praise or criticism, then you can’t focus on what you need to think as a sportsman first to be able to lead the team and then help the others in the team.”
Admirable as those sentiments may be, Kohli will find few cricket fanatics in the two countries agreeing with him when he says of the final: “It’s just another game of cricket.”