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BCCI Staff in Mumbai 24 February 2014 - 11:31am IST

Asia Cup a big captaincy challenge: Virat

India’s stand-in skipper hopes to take a leap forward as leader

Virat Kohli is set for his third stint as India captain when he leads the team in the Asia Cup in Bangladesh. Replacing MS Dhoni – who is down with a side strain – at the helm, Virat empathised with Team India’s regular captain, saying the pressure of leading the team in one tournament cannot be compared to what Dhoni endures day in and day out.

"I don't think this is anything compared to what he (Dhoni) has gone through in the past few years," Virat said. "I am captain for just one tournament. It is completely different from regularly captaining the side. When you win, you're praised, when you lose, you're criticised. It is all a part of it.

"I am not in a position right now to experience all that. I have got this one-odd opportunity like I did in the past as well. I am sure it is a very tough position to be in. You have to be ready to take all the criticism and praise that comes your way," he said.

Virat has some experience of leading India, in the tri-series in West Indies and the ODIs in Zimbabwe last year. The Asia Cup, however, will be a bigger challenge for the 25-year-old batsman, given he will be up against strong teams like Sri Lanka and Pakistan, along with aspiring teams like Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

"I have only been captain for about eight games till now," Virat said. "It went pretty good, but this is a big tournament. It's a challenge I'm looking forward to. We have got a young group of guys and some exciting players.

"I think that excites me to have a group that I can have a chat with and be on the same page. It's important to have an understanding. It's really exciting for me to improve the record, which is already good. I'm looking forward to the tournament."

When the discussion invariably veered to the big India-Pakistan contest, Virat said that the team was focused on winning the tournament rather than devoting all its energy to one game.

"Obviously, we are here to win the tournament. We haven't just come here to play one game and go back home; that's not our aim.

"Our aim is to win every game that we play. A game against Pakistan is always a hyped game for us, obviously a big pressure match. We take every game the same way. You know, the aim is to win the tournament, not just one game, and make sure the people are happy,” Virat said.

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