India feel confident before 'most challenging' World Cup, says Kohli

India's captain Virat Kohli speaks as head coach Ravi Shastri looks on during a news conference at the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) headquarters in Mumbai, India, on Tuesday. — Reuters

MUMBAI — India are very confident about their form, captain Virat Kohli said on Tuesday before his squad depart for the 10-nation World Cup in England and Wales starting next week.

"Personally, I think this is probably the most challenging World Cup of all the three that I've been part of, because of the format," the 30-year-old Kohli told reporters in Mumbai ahead of the team's departure.

The World Cup will use a revised format to decide the semi-finalists, with the teams all playing each other in the round-robin stage.

"We go into the World Cup feeling very balanced and confident. All our players have been in great form in the IPL," Kohli said referring to the Indian Premier League, which ended this month.

Kohli also said local seaming conditions would likely favor batsmen.

"In ICC tournaments the pitches are going to be very good and it's summer in the UK. We expect high-scoring games," Kohli told a press conference in Mumbai.

England beat Pakistan 4-0 in a five-match warm-up series with nearly every game seeing innings of 350 plus on grounds that will be used for the World Cup.

Kohli insisted, however, that World Cup pressure will bring down the totals.

"A bilateral series compared to a World Cup is very different, so you might see lot of 260-270 kind of games and teams successfully defending it because of the pressure factor," said the skipper of India – one the favorites alongside England and Australia.

Two-time winners India, who start against South Africa in Southampton on June 5, feel they have a strong chance with a potent pace bowling attack led by Jasprit Bumrah.

"We go into the World Cup feeling very balanced and a strong side. You saw in the IPL (T20 series) , all the players that are in the squad are in great form and playing really well," said Kohli.

India have some worries over their spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who were less impressive in the IPL.

Chahal claimed 18 wickets for Kohli's Royal Challengers Bangalore, but Yadav struggled with his left-arm wrist spin for Kolkata Knight Riders.

"In hindsight if you look at it, like Kuldeep, who has had so much success, it's important to see a period where things don't go your way. And I am glad it happened during the IPL, rather than the World Cup," said Kohli.

"He has time to reflect and correct things and come into the World Cup even stronger. We know the skill set he possesses along with Chahal. They are two pillars of our bowling line-up."

The 10-team World Cup returns to a round-robin format and Kohli said consistency was the only way to make the semi-finals.

"Everyone has to be at their best game intensity from the first match onwards and you don't have any room for complacency.

"That's why it's the World Cup, the most important tournament in the world," said Kohli, who compared the "intensity" to competing in football's English Premier League or Spain's La Liga.

England launch the tournament against South Africa at the Oval in London on May 30. The 46-day event will conclude with the final at Lord's in London on July 14.

The India squad will travel to England on Wednesday in their quest for a third World Cup title. They begin their campaign against South Africa in Southampton on June 5.

"Any team can beat any team ... The gap is much closer now between teams," India coach Ravi Shastri said. — Agencies