‘We need to tighten our fielding to compete hard against the best teams.’
India captain Virat Kohli said he ‘felt like a club batter’ when team mate Yuvraj Singh was in full flow during the ICC Champions Trophy match against Pakistan in Birmingham, on Sunday.
Defending champions India started their campaign with a resounding 124-run victory over Pakistan in a rain-hit encounter.
Kohli and Yuvraj stood out in an all-round batting effort, propelling India to 319 for three after rain halted proceedings twice with the latter smashing 53 off 32 balls.
“Yuvi took pressure off when I couldn’t get runs. The way he was hitting the ball, I felt like a club batter in front of him,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
While he was pleased with the win, Kohli pointed out he was not impressed with India’s fielding.
“With the bat and ball, right up there – I would say nine out of 10. In the field we were still 6 today. Very strong performance, we’ve taken the confidence from the practice games.
“We need to tighten our fielding to compete hard against the best teams.”
The Indian batsmen remained focussed despite the rain breaks with Rohit Sharma (91 off 119), Shikhar Dhawan (68 off 65), Kohli (81 not out off 68) and Yuvraj (53 off 32) rising to the occasion in a game reduced to 48 overs a side.
“Quite delighted with all batsmen chipping in with runs. Shikhar and Rohit – last time we won here, the opening partnership was crucial. Rohit took some time going, but he’s coming back from an injury, and international cricket is different to IPL.
“And Hardik, 18 off five balls, was outstanding. We went with four seamers purely because we’re playing Pakistan. They play spin really well, and most of them are right-handers.
“In pressure situations, to have mid-on, mid-off up and hit hard lengths, gives us an advantage. Against other sides, we might use two spinners, depending on their strengths.”
Man of the Match Yuvraj was happy that he could capitalise on the chances offered by the Pakistanis.
“I thought we all batted really well. The openers gave us a good start, Virat finished well, and it gave me the opportunity to go and attack. You just have to go and back yourself, and tell the opposition that you’re here to attack.
“I was lucky I was dropped, but I capitalised and I was hitting it well. I finished well. India-Pakistan is always a big game, and I think it has set us up really well. Hopefully we’ll take this confidence into the next game against Sri Lanka.”
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed felt his side lost the plot in the last few overs of the Indian innings.
“Everything was under control after 40 overs, but we lost the plot in the last eight. Credit to India’s batsmen. They scored 124 in those last eight, and the momentum went to India. I think we need to stick together and control our bowling rate, especially last few overs,” a disappointed Sarfraz said.