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Virat Kohli

'It's a different ball game' – Virat Kohli on what World Cup 2019 means to him

Virat Kohli, the India captain, has said the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 will be a "different ball game" for him, given it's his first as captain and his level of involvement will be a lot more than in his two previous outings.

The tournament in England and Wales will be Kohli's third in his 11-year career. He won the 2011 World Cup in India, playing a crucial role in the final, but he was just 22 at the time. In the 2015 edition in Australia and New Zealand, he was an integral part of the side, but MS Dhoni was still captain as India made the semi-finals.

The 2019 edition will be the first in which Kohli will be completely "involved" and he said he's looking forward to it. "In 2011, I was there but I wasn't involved in team meetings, decision-making," he told India Today in a chat. "In 2015, [I didn't have] to be a part of everything.

"But, to understand the magnitude of a tournament like this from a captain's point of view [this time] along with the team management, it's a different ball game.

"It's something I'm looking forward to. When you play international cricket for so long, after a while, you need a bigger challenge. I don't think there is a bigger challenge than World Cup. We have played so much cricket over the past few years and to find a tournament like this where every team is up and running again, [I am] so excited for it. I think it's amazing."

India announced their 15-man squad for the tournament on Monday, and Kohli believed it was one of the "most balanced" teams they have had. 

It's probably the most balanced side that we could have thought of.

Virat Kohli, India captain

He added that the players were in a good headspace going into a tournament, in which they are one of the favourites, ranked No.2 in the MRF Tyres ICC ODI Team Rankings. This, despite losing at home to Australia 2-3 in their final ODI series before the big event.

"Looking at the way we have played away from home, it's a great sign of things falling in place at the right time," said Kohli. "We are all very happy with the team. It's probably the most balanced side that we could have thought of. [Everyone is in] a good headspace, they are all doing wellThose are the kind of things that are crucial for a team to play well together."

Most of the team is involved in the Indian Premier League at the moment, and Kohli said playing in a cup tournament would help players get into the right mindset. "Even though you might be playing a tournament like the IPL right now, the anticipation, the excitement is for that big cup.

"And everyone is using all the games that they have to get that mindset established. And that's why you see people playing with lot of passion in the IPL, with lot of hunger. I love seeing the energy [in] the IPL. That excites me."

India begin their World Cup 2019 campaign against South Africa on 5 June.

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