Virat Kohli's Bangalore side have had a disastrous start to the IPL season, losing six out of six matches to sit at the bottom of the table, as of Friday, 12 April.
As captain, Kohli has been under great pressure and that might not be a good mindset to get into with the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 set to begin on 30 May in England, soon after the conclusion of the IPL.
"You can’t be just a performer, you need to be a match-winner for India."@mandhana_smriti looks to take inspiration from @imVkohli in the way he finishes matches for their country.https://t.co/bO27T0o6MF— ICC (@ICC) April 10, 2019
Bangalore's chances of making the playoffs seem rather bleak, but Kuldeep, one of India's leading bowlers, feels the disappointment from a poor IPL campaign won't affect Kohli's hunger to do well for India at the World Cup.
"He’s one of the best in the world, has broken so many records I don’t think he will be affected by this,” Kuldeep said. “He has a different hunger when he plays for India. Everyone is highly motivated to do well in the World Cup."
Kohli is one of only two players – the other being Suresh Raina – to have scored over 5000 runs in IPL history. He has shown good form this season too with 203 runs at a strike-rate of 126.08. Kuldeep feels Bangalore's woes have little to do with Kohli's form.
"With 5000-plus runs, individually he’s doing his best", said the wrist-spinner, who is ranked No.7 on the MRF Tyres ICC Men's ODI rankings for bowlers. "But maybe his team combination is not clicking. Maybe somewhere down the line he’s lacking in team combination. He’s in great touch and if he keeps doing well like that it will be good for India in World Cup."
One of the highlights of this season's IPL has been the heroics of Andre Russell, who has raked up 257 runs at an average of 128.50 and strike-rate of 212.39. Kolkata have benefitted greatly from the Jamaican's big hitting, but what if Kuldeep is entrusted with the task of stopping a Russell assault when India lock horns with Windies in the World Cup?
"If you have observed, Russell doesn’t go after the spinners much. He takes his time before attacking them but he is a terror for the pacers. I’ve a different plan against him. I am very clear in my mind about how to stop him," said Kuldeep.