DUBAI: India skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday said that all-rounder Hardik Pandya will be able to bowl two overs for the side in the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup at some stage, but his ability with the bat is priceless and there is no substitute for that.
The most anticipated encounter of the Super 12 stage will be played on Sunday between arch-rivals India and Pakistan. It will be after two years that these two teams will battle it out on the cricket field, after having last played in the ICC Men’s 50-over World Cup in 2019. “Well, I honestly feel that Hardik Pandya presently with his physical condition is getting better in terms of being prepared to bowl at least two overs for us at a certain stage in this tournament and we strongly believe we can make the most of the opportunity we have at our hand till the time he starts bowling. We have considered a couple of other options to chip in with overs so we are not bothered about that all,” said Kohli during a virtual pre-match press conference.
“What he brings at number six for us is something that you cannot create overnight. Hence, I was always in favour of backing him as a batter in Australia purely and we saw what he did in the T20I series and how he can take the game away from the opposition. We understand the value he brings to the team as a number six batter and it is important to have such players who can play impact innings. For us, that is way more valuable than forcing him to do something that he cannot at the moment, he is motivated and he is keen to start giving us a couple of overs to us,” he added.
While replying to an ANI query about the Indian bowling attack, Kohli said: “We try and go into any game with absolute preparation and proper understanding of what we need to do as a team. As long as we do that, we are confident of playing against any team at any point. So now for me to say that we have great bowlers and we did not have great bowlers before, we have won every time we have played against him in the T20 World Cup. If it was just a case of our bowling being weak, then we should not have won those games.”
“I do not think on those lines, for me what matters is that how individuals are playing at that time. Looking at the IPL finals, the quality of pitches is going to be far better in this T20 World Cup. This being an ICC tournament, we know the standard of the pitches has to be maintained which is consistent across all venues. The wicket in the IPL final was very good and I think the dew factor is becoming prominent, which is also going to help the pitches to stay better. Sharjah more or less will stay true to its true nature which is slow and low. I do not see any high-scoring games there, wickets I feel are better now,” he added.
Talking about his decision to leave T20I captaincy after this World Cup, the Indian skipper said: “I have already explained myself, I do not think I need to harp it on anymore. Our focus is to play well as a team in this tournament and do what we need to do. People are trying to dig something which does not exist, I am not someone who will give importance to that. I have explained myself honestly, if people think there is more to it, then certainly it is not the case.”
Pakistan has never won even a single match against India in the history of World Cups (50-over and 20-over).
“It is crucial to have clarity of thought. I think in today’s cricket, one ball can change the momentum in the shortest format. We have played in the IPL so it will help us in executing our plans more confidently, staying precise is important and one needs to back their plans,” said Kohli.
Talking about the challenges of bio-bubbles, Kohli said: “We have talked about this, the good thing is that we have played a tournament like the IPL where you have seven other teams, there is a new challenge every day. You stay involved in the game. In the World Cup, we have the motivation of playing a multi-national tournament. These things give you new challenges.”
“I understand that cricket was not played for a long time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but to cover it up if you lose players, then I do not think it will help world cricket. If you see four-five people laughing, then you cannot think that everyone is on the same page about bio-bubbles, you need to give players a respite, it is important,” he added. (ANI)
T20 WC: Dhoni’s presence helping calm atmosphere ahead of high-voltage Pak game, says team source
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
The term Captain Cool might now be synonymous with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, but it all started in the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup in 2007 when Dhoni led a group of youngsters to the title. Interestingly, India’s campaign had started with a game against arch-rivals Pakistan. Cut to 2021 and the script wears a slight similarity. India will once again open the campaign against Pakistan. Only this time, Dhoni is a legend and he has been appointed mentor for the tournament by BCCI.
An India-Pakistan game in a cricket World Cup isn’t just about playing to the best of one’s ability, it is also about keeping calm and not letting the occasion get to the youngsters in the team. And this is exactly where MS Dhoni’s presence has helped Virat Kohli’s boys. Speaking to ANI, source in the know of developments in the team management said Dhoni’s addition as mentor for the T20 World Cup has been a huge positive with the former skipper’s room being the go-to place for everyone, be it for serious talks or banter to help relax the mind before the first game of the tournament.
“We start with the game against Pakistan and Dhoni’s presence has seen the whole dressing room wear a calm look. His room is obviously the bonding zone for the players and you can always expect him to come up with the answers to the queries of the youngsters and it hasn’t been any different this time going into the T20 World Cup.
“This team has some of the most talented players in the country, but big-match experience is something that can only come with time and there isn’t much of that in this team apart from the likes of Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Shami and a couple others. The youngsters need that big brother figure in the team to give them a calming influence when they walk out to the middle,” the source explained.
The Indian players have been training smart for the opening game against Pakistan and even won both their warm-up games — against England and Australia. Having played the IPL in the UAE has seen them adapt well to the conditions on offer.
But the Pakistan team is also familiar with UAE conditions and that is why batting consultant Matthew Hayden on Thursday said that the T20 World Cup clash between arch-rivals India and Pakistan will be a ‘dogfight’, and one team would not run away with the game.