The Virat Kohli-led Indian team has reached the end of an intense international schedule. After a lengthy, historic tour Down Under, the Indian cricket team lost the two-match T20I series against Australia at home, followed by defeat in the five-match ODI series that concluded on Wednesday.

However, there won’t be much respite for the Indian cricketers as they head into the Indian Premier League starting on March 23. The 12th edition of the T20 tournament will end on May 19, just 11 days before the start of the ICC World Cup in England.

Team India's workload since IPL 2018

Format No of matches played
Test 12
ODI 27
T20I 16

The IPL can be exhausting for a player, what with the never-ending cycle of matches and travel. Most of India’s ODI players are mainstays of their respective IPL teams and would be expected to play every game. But if India are to mount a serious challenge at the World Cup, it’ll be important to manage the workload of the players during the IPL.

While India’s chief selector MSK Prasad reckons the IPL can only help in preparing for the World Cup, skipper Kohli believes some caution will have to be shown by the players during the T20 tournament.

“Exactly what we spoke in the end in the change room was: ‘just go and enjoy these two months in the IPL’,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference after India’s defeat to Australia in the 5th ODI on Wednesday.

“Don’t think of performance pressure or I have to do this or do that. I think we deserve to really just enjoy our cricket and just go out there and play because of the joy of playing the sport.

“Being on the road for so many months does take a toll on you as a team. I’m not saying that’s an excuse because you’re expected to do that and be motivated to win every game you’re playing for the country. When you have a long season you can always reflect on it. I am not someone who ever takes this as an excuse. If I’m not up to play a game mentally or physically, I’ll inform the management before and I think everyone’s responsible enough to do that.

“It’s been a hectic season and we are proud of the season - happy with the way we’ve played, happy with the way guys have come around and shown their ability as players and confidence we’ve carried as a team. It’s really great to see. From that point of view, I think all of us just deserve to go to the IPL and just enjoy these two months.”

Kohli wants the players to decide for themselves whether they need rest during the IPL. He believes it’s the responsibility of the players to communicate their needs to the management of their respective franchise, in order to remain fresh for the World Cup.

“We’ve given the responsibility to the player to be smart and to inform the management of the franchise and be in touch with Patrick [Farhart], our physio,” said Kohli.

“All the workload will be monitored during the World Cup - and given a window, the guys can afford to rest. I can guarantee that because a World Cup comes every four years and we play IPL every year. Not to say we won’t be committed to the IPL but we’ve got to be smart. We have to work in balance and take smart decisions. The responsibility and the onus is on the player. No one will be forced to do something. Eventually everyone will know no one wants to miss the World Cup and cost the team good balance.”