ADELAIDE, Nov 23 (PTI): Talking tough ahead of the of the Test series against Australia, stand-in-skipper Virat Kohli said that the team is in the right frame of mind and totally equipped to handle the dangerous Mitchell Johnson.
�I think coming to Australia and playing, it�s more about the mindset rather than getting used to the conditions, because pace and bounce is something which you can get used to. But unless you�re mentally there, there�s no point of any sort of practice,� Kohli told reporters on the eve of the first two-day warm-up match against Cricket Australia XI. Kohli also opined that the team is �absolutely� capable of withstanding the threat posed by the paceman Johnson.
�He�s been bowling really well � everyone knows that. Credit to him for doing all that,� Kohli said. �We are equipped enough to tackle him on these pacy and bouncy wickets. I don�t see any good reason why we can�t come up and put up a good fight.
�It�s all about mentally being there. If you can visualise being in that battle and being on top, I think you�re going to be able to go out there and execute it. I think the guys in our team have the ability to do it... It�s all about being mentally present.�
Given the responsibility of leading the side in the first Test in the absence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is recovering from a wrist injury, Kohli, who led India to the Under-19 World Cup triumph in 2008, said that he has always been comfortable as a leader.
�I love leading the side, I love being captain, I love putting my first foot forward and putting in my (views) throughout the game. I don�t see any issues on why I can�t be up to the challenge.
�As long as the team backs me and puts in the performances we want, I think I�m going to look good at the end of the day,� said Kohli.
Responding to Australian paceman Peter Siddle�s jibe that he might find the rowdy crowd and added responsibilities �a bit daunting�, Kohli, who will become India�s 32nd Test captain at the start of the four-Test series in Brisbane on December 4, was quick to answer back.
�Well that�s for me to know and for me to experience,� said the top-order batsman. �I�ve played against him, he�s quite a competitive guy so I�m not surprised there�s already some banter starting from that end ... (and) I don�t mind all that, he added.
Kohli also voiced his concern about his counterpart Michael Clarke�s injury-disrupted lead-up to the first Test.
�I�ve heard about Michael Clarke�s hamstring injury. I�m not in a position to comment on that because I don�t know how serious it is,� he said.
�It�s very unfortunate for a cricketer before a Test series to have that sort of an injury.�
India�s 4-0 Test loss to Australia in 2011-12 season came after five days of match practice, while this tour starts with four days of warm-up games. Kohli though just wants to perform in whatever practice is available.
�It should be enough. We don�t have any choice, I guess. We�ve got to do whatever we can with those four days of practice games, and the sessions in between.�
Kohli has been fortunate enough to play in Australia with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. The 26-year-old was India�s best batsman in the 0-4 drubbing and said he would enter this rubber wiser. �There�s more pace and bounce, so the shot selection becomes very important. That�s what I saw last time - you need a lot more patience compared to back home. You�ve got to pick the right balls to hit in the right areas and figure out with the big fields what are your spots and strengths are - and the areas you should avoid early on with the new Kookaburra because it does quite a bit, especially on these tracks,� he said.
�I think Australia is a great place to bat on, once you get in. The morning session goes through [well for bowlers]. The guys need to realise that and play themselves in. Eventually I experienced that last time as well. It�s a beautiful place to play cricket as a batsman, it�s a lovely place to be when you�re 30 or 40 and the ball gets a bit old.�
In the previous visit Kohli was fined for an obscene finger gesture, which he made in response to crowd taunting. The aggressive Delhi player said that he is �certainly expecting it again�.
�I had quite a bit of it last time, but I loved it. Once you perform in those conditions, the people love you here and they love a good fight,� he said.
�We�re here to play aggressive cricket, play the brand of cricket that Australia plays. They can expect a lot of fightbacks on the bat and there�s going to be more aggression this time around with the whole squad.�
The series opener in Brisbane will be followed by three more Tests in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.