India captain Virat Kohli has played down his individual battle with AB de Villiers in the upcoming Test series in South Africa, saying a collective team effort will be required to win the series.
De Villiers and Kohli are the batting superstars in their respective teams and many believe the outcome of the series could depend on who comes out on top in the run-scoring department between the two.
The two players are, of course, teammates at the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and have developed a great friendship and respect for each other off the field.
Kohli told reporters on Saturday: “It’s not like only two guys are playing in the series.
“AB is a great friend of mine. I respect the way he plays the game and I’ve always respected him as a person as well, but when you play against each other it is not like that.
“It’s just about wanting to get AB out and I’m sure the opposition would want the same when I play or (Ajinkya) Rahane plays or (Cheteshwar) Pujara plays.
“I don’t think there is any difference in terms of mindset, everyone wants to be the standout player in the series and make contributions towards the team winning.
“Unless you have that as a group, you don’t have many chances of winning.”
India have never won a Test series in South Africa and the India skipper insists that if they concentrate only on one player in the opposing side it could be dangerous.
According to Kohli, his team will be ready to play well as a group ahead of the much anticipated series that starts on 5 January at Newlands.
The India captain continued: “Everyone wants to be the stand-out player in the series and make contributions towards the team winning the series but unless you have that as a group, you don’t have many chances of winning the series.
“Some people might have brilliant individual performances but then you will always be fine with one or two people doing well. Right now with the kind of hunger we have in the group, everyone wants an opportunity.
“That’s a very exciting thing. I can’t speak for the opposition because AB hasn’t played much Test cricket since he played against us and he is coming back after a while.
“Setting apart all of the spice created from the outside about the series, the team that plays well together has the best chance of winning.”
By Nasri Alexander