Cardiff: Skipper Virat Kohli, who is happy with KL Rahul’s timely hundred at No 4 slot is not overtly worried with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma’s patchy form in the two World Cup warm-up games ahead of the tournament proper.
The skipper gave enough indications that Rahul has sealed his spot at No 4 with a 99-ball-108 against Bangladesh in the final warm-up game which India won by 95 runs.
“The biggest positive today was the way KL (Rahul) batted at No. 4. Everyone else know their roles. It is important that he gets the runs as he is such a class player,” Kohli said of Rahul who hit a 99-ball 108, after India’s big win in their final World Cup warm-up game.
“MS (Dhoni) and Hardik were superb as well,” he added. Dhoni also scored a hundred — a 78-ball 113 — while Hardik Pandya contributed 21 from 11 deliveries down the order. The two senior openers however didn’t get the kind of practice that they would have ideally liked before the first game against South Africa on June 5 in Southampton.
Dhawan had scores of 1 and 2 while Rahit scored 2 and 19 against New Zealand and Bangladesh respectively. “We have had two good challenges in the two games while batting first. Shikhar and Rohit are quality players, they become stars in ICC events. Ideally we would have liked to chase. I understand if guys don’t get going rightaway in this format. In warm-up games, at times, you don’t get the motivation especially because the amount of cricket that we play. But I am glad with what we got out of these two games,” Kohli came in defence of the opening duo.
He also praised the wrist spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal for picking six wickets amongst themselves. ‘”We were challenged by their batsmen as well but we bowled well and our spinners got wickets too. Bumrah got us the breakthrough and Chahal and Kuldeep got us six wickets,” Kohli said.
He said in the World Cup matches the ball might turn a bit in the second half and swing and seam would be important in the first fifteen overs. He said most of the teams winning the toss would want to chase. In warm-up games, often the side fielding second finds it a bit of a drag in the final overs like it happened against Bangladesh where the outcome was clear by the 35th over but match went on till the last over.
“The last 15 overs could be challenging on the field, especially when the game is not interesting and you have to go through the motions. But once the tournament starts nobody would find all these things long, which is what you expect from a world class tournament like the World Cup.”
Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza said, ‘We have spent fours weeks here. So, a few players have some niggles. “Looks alright (about his fitness), but we need to look after our bowlers. Our top-order is scoring some runs. Soumya batted well, Liton and Mushfiq did a good job. Overall, the top-order batsmen need to understand their role.”