India may have been on the wrong end of a stirring Sri Lankan run chase in their last match, but Virat Kohli is confident that there isn’t much that needs to be changed with the team ahead of their must-win encounter against South Africa at The Oval on Sunday (June 11).
Kohli pointed to the fact that the team had done well in its practice matches as well as in the first game against Pakistan, and the batsmen had put up a good total against Sri Lanka too. “I don’t think we need to change too much. We played the practice matches well and won our first match convincingly,” he said on Saturday. “We made 320-plus in the last match too, and didn’t get all out. The one thing I summed up is that maybe we could have bowled better, but if you see, the other team played really well. All the batsmen came and played well, batted positively. On these kind of days, as a captain, you can’t do much. If you saw yesterday’s match, we all would have thought that Bangladesh might not have been able to chase it (when they were 33 for 4 against New Zealand), but one partnership and the match changed.
“Like I said, there are no guaranteed wins in this tournament at any time. Any team can beat the other due to one partnership. Short format cricket is so fast paced now, and any team can compete with another. One partnership can change a match. We are playing good cricket, and maybe in some crunch situations, if we could take one or two wickets or capitalise on the right time, the result in the last match could have been different.”
One approach, very successfully adopted by England, is bringing an almost T20 approach to the game with attacking batsmen right through. India have preferred to go steady at the start and go big at the end, and while Kohli said it could be something to consider in the future, the current method had yielded good results for his side.
“See, that could be a possibility in the future, depending on the conditions you’re playing in. I think this tournament, every team is taking their time initially in getting in,” he remarked. “I think the middle overs are something that teams are looking to target. We are doing something different which is capitalising the last ten overs better than anyone.
“Yes, if you end up doing both those phases well, I think the middle and the last, then probably end up getting a few more runs than you thought as a team. But it’s a thin line. If you’re trying to get 20 runs and you lose a set batsman at that point of time, you end up getting 20 less. So you never know what is enough when you’re batting first. All you have to do is try to defend the total well that you put on the board.”
Kohli did say that in the future, teams could look at playing T20 style cricket in the first 20 overs, with field restrictions on. “In the future, everything is possible. Looking at the conditions, if the wicket is good enough to go out and play aggressive cricket from ball one, then yes, I’m sure teams are going to start to look at the first 20 as a big opportunity,” he felt. “And then maybe thinking the last ten overs are probably the toughest to score because there’s one extra fielder out, and if the field is big then it becomes more difficult.
“But I don’t think in England anyone is going to try and do that because the conditions can go against you pretty quickly and you can lose wickets with the new ball. The trend I’ve seen in every game is trying to get in first and then explode in the middle and the end. That’s purely respecting the conditions that we’re playing in.”
As to the playing XI, Kohli kept his cards close to his chest, as he tends to do. “There are all kind of possibilities,” he said. “We definitely have looked at the last game and where we can make a bit of change. We’ve already discussed those things, and I’m not going to reveal anything now, but everything is possible. You can have any sort of combination possible for us starting tomorrow.”