Kohli gives kudos to Pakistan

India skipper Virat Kohli has spoken of his admiration for Pakistan’s ability to turn things around after a rocky start to the Champions Trophy.

Pakistan have struggled on their travels in ODI cricket in the last twelve months being emphatically beaten in bilateral series in England, New Zealand and Australia.

Their victories over the West Indies carry little weight with the men from the Caribbean in disarray for some time now.

Pakistan started the Champions Trophy with a huge loss against India but bounced back with a DLS win over South Africa and a scrappy display against Sri Lanka but put on a bowling clinic against England in the semi-final to set up a rematch with India in the final.

Kohli said of Pakistan after India’s thrashing of Bangladesh: “Credit to them, they’ve turned around things for themselves really well. They’ve beaten sides that looked really strong against them, but the belief just showed on the field [with] the way they played together as a team.

“What we are going to try to do is repeat the similar sort of cricket that we have played so far, knowing the strengths and weaknesses they have. Obviously we’ll have to plan a bit according to that, but I don’t know there’s much that we need to change as a team.

“I don’t think we need to look too far away from what we are doing as a group, I think focus on our skills and our abilities and believe in ourselves on that particular day, and we’ll give ourselves a good chance to go out there and do some good things for the team.”

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Kohli praised his frontline bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah for their contribution to India’s run to the final.

The skipper said: “They’ve been terrific initially, and in the later stages as well. Their length and line has been impeccable, so consistent, bowling close to the batsmen, always there with an opportunity to get a wicket. Even in conditions which are not offering too much, bowling such lines that we can produce wicket-taking opportunities.”

The captain is eager to maintain the fitness of opener Rohit Sharma who smashed an unbeaten hundred in the semi but was left out of the limited overs squad that will visit the West Indies.

He said: “There’s no doubt about Rohit’s ability and what he brings to the team. We need to protect him going further because in the latter half of the year we have massive tours coming up, and his batting contribution will be a huge factor for us.

“We want him to be careful because after a massive surgery you do need to be careful. If you push yourself a little too hard and then it snaps again you’re out for seven, eight months. I think it’s a conscious decision by everyone to give him a break. He’s making the most of the form he’s in right now, and I’m sure he also knows and understands the whole situation.”

Kohli feels that it is impossible to predict what will happen in the final and downplayed India’s favourites tag.

He said: “There are no statements in this game, honestly. No one is a winner beforehand, and you can’t predict anything in this game.

“Regardless of who you play in the finals, it’s always going to be challenging because once you start thinking that it’s a big game, then your mindset changes.

“We’ve seen some really surprising results, and it’s been amazing for the fans to watch and for the players to be a part of, as well. We just want to enjoy the final and we deserve to be there.

“We played some really good cricket. We’re not going to take anything for granted for sure. It doesn’t matter whether we win by nine wickets, or we win by one wicket. We’re just going to go there and try to do the same things again and again. Be bowling as a team, and hopefully the results will come.”