He strode out on to the park to jeers and left to a chorus of boos at venues in Australia in the past few weeks but for India captain Virat Kohli it's all just water off a duck's back.

"It's an honour to step on to the field for my country so I don't necessarily have to have the crowd on my side or against my side," said Kohli in Napier today before India take on New Zealand in the opening one-day international of the Netmeds Series Trophy campaign at McLean Park from 3pm tomorrow.

"Whether there's one person in the stadium or 50,000 I still have to go there to do my job so that's the mindset I've been in the past two to three years."

Kohli said it was something he had encountered in the middle phase of his career in 2014-15.


"I used to feed off those things then because I needed something to boost me up but now, being the captain of the team, I don't need to focus on those things," said the 30-year-old from Delhi who boasts 39 ODI centuries and 48 half tons. "I have a greater responsibility now which I understand."

He found New Zealand to be a pleasant tour where fans enjoy quality cricket on the stable platform of good sportsmanship.

"I think we really enjoy ourselves here so how the crowd reacts to me or the team is not something we think about as a side ... "

While the Black Caps don't engage in overzealous banter it's fair to say the likes of Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Doug Bracewell, if he makes the cut, won't be shy to tickle the rib cage of the adroit India batsmen.

Conversely, the India batsmen of yesteryear, who meekly surrendered their wickets after taking a few body blows, are gone, if standing up to cantankerous Australia seamers is anything to go by.

However, it was a day of diplomacy for Kohli and Black Caps counterpart Kane Williamson after an amiable hand-clasp and a hearty exchange: "How are you, bro?"

Like two countries' leaders attending a political summit before a no-holds barred brainstorming session at a conference centre, the pair exchanged views in hushed tones as the media scrum jostled for position with cameras and microphones, in the hope of whetting the fans' appetite.

He said the Black Caps' perch at No 3 on the global ladder spoke volumes.


"We played them in India as well and we got beaten in Mumbai."

Kohli felt the Kiwis had a healthy mixture of experience and youth.

"They are probably one of the most balanced teams in the world and that's going to be the biggest challenge for us."

That was perhaps most obvious in the scorching pace of the mould of left-arm, new-ball merchant Trent Boult.

"They play their cricket in the right way and it's something we always appreciate about the New Zealand cricket team."

Kohli talked up Williamson, labelling him "easily one of the best players in the world".

"He's so easy on the eye and great to watch," he said. "I really enjoy watching his batting, personally, and when he's on song he's the most attractive to watch so that's what I feel."

Kohli said a batsman of Williamson's ilk would always command a pivotal role purely because of his ability to play in all three formats.

"The way he's gone about making those runs he, more or less, makes the team win when he scores so it tells me a lot about his awareness of the game and hence he's leading the side and guiding them in the right direction."

Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson and Virat Kholi with the Netmeds ODI Series Trophy before the opening match at McLean Park, Napier, from 3pm tomorrow. Photo/Paul Taylor
Black Caps skipper Kane Williamson and Virat Kholi with the Netmeds ODI Series Trophy before the opening match at McLean Park, Napier, from 3pm tomorrow. Photo/Paul Taylor

Nevertheless, he emphasised veteran Ross Taylor and other protagonists in the hosts' line up could not be overlooked.

"Their batting unit is usually built around Kane and Ross, especially in ODIs, and the other guys bat around them so we'll be aware of that and we'll work on our plans."

He said India weren't as experienced as a batting unit in their last tour here but they had mutated since then with an air of consciousness about their prowess.

"Definitely we'll be able to counter anything that is thrown at us but, having said that, New Zealand always has fields that make the games high scoring in general so the key is not to panic on the field when you see 300 posted regularly."

In the last tour, Kohli felt his troops lacked that composure in chasing down a 300-plus total.

"They know their conditions pretty well and they are one of the strongest sides at home to beat but we take that as a challenge and we're definitely looking to do the same we did in Australia — playing good cricket and believing in our abilities to give a balanced performance every time we step on to the field."

He played down the possibility of a three-pronged seam attack, endorsing instead an allrounder who could roll his arm while adding runs to the total.

"The moment you don't have an allrounder, who isn't firing, then the situation of three fast bowlers comes up ... ," he said, adding that variable emerged anytime allrounders in the mould of suspended Hardik Pandya weren't in the equation.

"You're never thinking of three fast bowlers unless you're playing in conditions that are totally against spin bowling."

Kohli said the side boundaries at McLean Park were short so targeting those areas were imperative although bowlers finding composure was more vital in dictating terms on what shots they offer batsmen.

"Playing in New Zealand, unless the wicket is really green and doing a lot with the new ball, the bowlers have to figure out which areas they contain boundaries and which areas they can get them out." he said.

BLACK CAPS: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Jimmy Neesham, Henry Nicholls, Tim Seifert (wk), Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.

INDIA: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma (vc), KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni (wk), Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Khaleel Ahmed, Mohammed Shami.