When captains talk about preparing for a final, often times they’ll say their team is treating it like just another game in order to play down the significance of the match.
India cricket captain Virat Kohli is doing just that ahead of tonight’s World Test Championship final against the Black Caps with one significant difference - he really does think the final is insignificant.
“If you're talking about Test cricket and deciding who is the best test team in the world on one game, over a period of five days, that's not the reality of the truth,” Kohli said ahead of the Southampton Test.
“It's not going to reflect anything to all the people who really understand the game and know exactly what has gone on in the last four or five years and how the teams have fared.
“If we win this game, cricket does not stop for us. If we lose this game, cricket does not stop for us.
“Our processes and our mindset are what matters to us the most, and we are striving for excellence every day.”
His opposite in the fixture, Kane Williamson, can understand Kohli’s point given a two-year competition full of Test series is going to be decided by a single match.
However, he also pointed out that’s what global competitions are – a champion found in a moment.
“I suppose that’s why we play so much cricket over a long period of time,” Williamson said.
“All sides are forever just trying to grow and improve. We go to tournaments that span four weeks, World Cups and things, and the context provides a lot of excitement around that and on the day, in semifinals and finals, anything can happen.
“Whether they’re the best teams or not, historically, that go through, that’s part of the package and what we sign up for, and here we are with another moment, six days, five days, whatever it’s going to be, where there’s some really exciting cricket going to be played.”
The Black Caps find themselves with another chance to reach cricket’s peak this weekend after coming up painfully short in the ODI World Cups of 2019 and 2015, although Williamson said their current build-up has a different feeling to it from those campaigns.
“When you’re doing it over two years, and you’re starting it’s so far away to focus on, so you are just focusing on the cricket at hand and trying as a unit to progress as well as you can over a period of time.
“As you get a bit closer you might start targeting it a little bit more and here we are, which is great.
“The calendar is clearly really, really busy. In some ways it has popped up a little bit, but at the same time we feel very privileged to be here and be involved in it and excited by the opportunity to play tomorrow.”