Wed, 16 Oct 2019

'We had doubts at the halfway stage' - Kohli

ESPNCricInfo
23 Jun 2019, 07:42 GMT+10

4:36 PM ET

With a total of just 224 to defend Virat Kohli admitted the dressing had "doubts" about what would happen. The India captain was also honest about their batting not going to according to plan because some of his men had played "horizontal" bat shots on a pitch that demanded they play straight.

On a sunny Saturday, Kohli had no qualms in electing to bat and wanted to put up a score well above 250. But as the game progressed, and the slow nature of the pitch and a quality Afghanistan attack challenged the Indian batsmen, Kohli said they had to recalculate.

"You expect yourself to win the toss and put up big runs on the board," Kohli told the host broadcaster after India's narrow 11-run win, wrapped up by a Mohammad Shami hat-trick off the penultimate ball of the match. "Then you see the nature of the pitch slowing down drastically with three wrist spinners [Rashid Khan, Rahmat Shah and Mujeeb Ur Rahman]. We thought 250-260 would have been par, but 270 would have been outstanding effort."

Watch on Hotstar (India only): Highlights of Kohli's fifty

Barring Kohli, who made his third half-century of the World Cup, every other Indian batsman struggled to find rhythm. Rohit Sharma was clueless against the carom ball from Mujeeb. KL Rahul abruptly played a reverse sweep and paid the price. Vijay Shankar attempted a sweep, tempted by the empty area at fine leg, but was lbw. MS Dhoni's dot-ball kitty swelled once again before he charged Rashid in desperation and was stumped. Kedar Jadhav played a scrappy and unconvincing innings.

Only Kohli displayed dominance over the bowlers as he rotated strike with ease before he cut a ball that bounced sharply and took his leading edge. Kohli admitted India's shot selection was not good on the day.

"As soon as I went in I understood the pace of the pitch. I thought cross-batted shots are not on on this pitch at all. You've got to play with a straight bat [and because of that] I was able to rotate strike. Our shot selection could have been much better - a lot of horizontal bat shot costs us a lot of wickets. You can't really take the game away from the opposition, you'll have to respect the pace of the pitch and knock the ball around for ones and twos and work yourself into an innings. But once you lose wickets on a pitch like that with three quality wristspinners..."

"They really put some pressure on us in the middle overs. A team like Afghanistan who have a lot of talent doesn't let you play the way you want to play."

What then was India's plan at the innings break? Kohli said it was to have the "collective belief" and the bowling attack showed plenty, led by Jasprit Bumrah, Shami and Yuzvendra Chahal. "At halfway mark, we did have some sort of doubts in our minds [about] what's going to happen in the game, but everyone had belief in the change room. Everyone had collective belief that we can win this one.

"This game was way more important for us. It didn't go as planned, but when things don't go your way you need to show character and bounce back and fight till the last ball. That shows the character of our team."

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