World Cup: Hardik’s presence allows me to drop anchor: Kohli

Hardik Pandya

Nottingham: Virat Kohli can switch gears seamlessly while batting but the Indian captain feels that the presence of a compulsive stroke-player like Hardik Pandya allows him to play second fiddle at times.

It’s not every day that Kohli scored at more than a run-a-ball, yet his 82 off 77 balls in India’s 36-run win against Australia had only four boundaries and two sixes. He was happy running the ones and twos, save the two sixes off Mitchell Starc, as Pandya was the aggressor, scoring 48 off 25 balls.

Asked if he didn’t think about shifting gears, Kohli replied in the affirmative but then spoke about change in plan.

“Okay, yeah, that thought (to start attacking) did come to my mind. After I crossed 50, I sort of spoke to Hardik and he said I don’t necessarily need to take any chances,” the skipper said.

In fact, it was Pandya who told his captain to drop anchor as his presence gave him freedom to attack.

“Hardik said the fact that you are at one end gives me more assurance to play my game. So, I had to take responsibility of holding it but still maintaining tempo, knocking the ball around,” the skipper said, providing some nuggets of his conversation with Pandya.

Virat Kohli

One of the reasons was not getting enough deliveries that upset his rhythm. “And then in the last five, six overs, I think I played about six balls. So, I would play one ball in three overs and that was also single immediately. As a batsman, you can’t really get rhythm after a while. These things happen in the one-day game.”

For the skipper, it’s not a problem to swallow his champion’s ego and be the support cast if he finds that someone else is being the enforcer. “As long as guys like Hardik and MS (Dhoni) play like that, I have no problem in just doing my job and taking singles and being at one end. Sometimes, you will get an opportunity to strike as well, and this is what we discussed as a team. If some guys are hitting at a certain strike rate, you make sure that you play second fiddle and control the game because if you lose wickets — if we lost five wickets in that phase, you’re looking at 20 runs less maybe,” the skipper said, explaining his rationale behind the game plan.

“The communication is very important, also. They understood that this is a phase where we could get those extra runs, and they just send Hardik, and I think that it was a very, very good plan,” he said.