Ahead of the first Test against Australia in Pune, Virat Kohli said it was too early to pass a judgment on his captaincy but insisted he has become a better batsman after assuming the leadership role since captaincy does not leave any room for complacency.

 

Here are the best quotes from his pre-series press conference.

On his evolution as a captain

"I don't judge myself after every series. Priority and the only goal that we have is to win games of cricket. Captaincy will be as good as how your team performs and how consistent the players are. If we are not playing to our potential as players, there's not much I can do as captain."
"The more the team becomes mature, the captain starts looking good. If the team doesn't do well, the captaincy bit seems out of control. Maybe five to eight years down the line I will be able to judge myself as a captain if I remain captain for that long. I feel personally it's too early for me to sit down and judge what I have done well or haven't."

On how captaincy has impacted his batting

"Captaincy does not allow you to be complacent at any stage especially with the bat if that is your only discipline in the game, in the field as well. In that aspect I think complacency goes out the window as captain."

"You tend to focus a lot more on certain situations which you might or might not without the extra responsibility on your shoulders and may play a loose shot."

On his counterpart Steve Smith

Battle of the Superstars! (AFP / BCCI)

 

"Captaincy requires you to be on point throughout the game that's one thing which has worked well for me and I think Steve Smith as well. He has been performing consistently with the bat and as captain as well. It's the same scenario there as well. Captain's responsibility has urged him to focus a bit more in certain situations and push that much extra for his team and that has shown in his performances."

"He is the no. 1 Test player in the world and there's a reason for that. I can't pinpoint any similarities in our career. I have seen him in the academy he was never a dominant batsman and it's a remarkable achievement for someone starting his career as a leg-spinner."

His outlook towards criticism

"I am pretty confident of where my game stands and pretty comfortable with myself as a person now. People writing articles or speaking about certain things, that's their job. I have no control over it, they have to write or criticise or not criticise, that's not in my control."

"I focus on my game and that's the priority for me"

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On learning from the England series

"We come into the series much more confident and surer about us as a squad and what we want to do. Every match and series is challenging and we don't see any series as high or low. All teams we had played were good quality teams. Australia is no different."

 

"England was a very tough series. We started off (home season) with a draw which we managed and which was not a convincing draw from our side. It was more of not letting the opposition win and from there on we turned things around. That took a lot of character and the team is in a different mind, space ever since that first game in Rajkot. The mindset has been different."

Focussing on the opponent

"We don't need to focus too much on the opposition, at the same time we respect them. Last game we respected Bangladesh equally. Every opposition has to be respected on equal terms. We are not worried about the opposition's combinations or what they want to come up with. We are pretty comfortable with what we want to do. That's our strength, not focusing on opposition too much."

 

On the Pune pitch

"Even in the one-day games that we have played here, the surface was dry underneath. It had a decent covering of grass which you need to keep for the surface to hold itself together. This time of the year when the summer comes in the wicket tends to get slower and lower. So that's what we expect from this wicket as well. We expect it to turn from day two, day three. It's very difficult to keep the wicket together. We understand exactly how the wicket's going to play."

On the pacers' impact in the side

"The pacers have stood out. People who have standout performances are the ones in the limelight but guys who have important contributions, especially with the ball, are the ones that take those important one or two wickets in between the innings to give the spinners a bit of rest and then come back and attack again. The pace bowlers have been able to do that.

 

"One reason for that is they are very comfortable in the roles they have been given. To run in hot conditions and not necessarily having the plan to attack all the time can be difficult. And that's one reason for our success as well. People are playing selfless cricket and the fast bowlers have been the prime contenders for that. "
"The way they have stood out during the England series and against Bangladesh as well. Just now in Hyderabad, Umesh, Bhuvi, Ishant all three of them. Even against New Zealand they came up with important contributions throughout the series. So it's been a massive, massive factor for us in winning those series."

On Kumble's influence in channeling his aggression:

"To an extent, yes (I would say). I was working on those things already on a constant basis. I wanted to learn from my mistakes and evolve as a person. Anil Bhai coming into play channelled it much better in terms of his experience. He was a very aggressive player in his head as well. But he knew when to use that aggression and how to channel it. So he has helped me in that aspect a little bit."

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Kumble's impact on the team

"Apart from that, what he has really brought into the side is the mindset of taking wickets as bowlers. He was a spinner but used to think as a fast bowler, he was that aggressive with his thinking. That's why he ended up taking the highest Test wickets (619) for India. He was an out-and-out match-winner and the mindset rubs on to the players in the change room as well. There is so much to learn from him especially for the bowlers."

"The way he thought about getting batsmen out, the way he used to set them up. And the way he worked on his fitness and skills as well. So everyone takes a lot of inspiration from him. He has been a legend of Indian cricket and we are really glad to have him in the change room."