First 10 overs will be crucial: Kohli
Riding on the momentum of their comprehensive victories in Kochi and Ranchi, India will be keen to seal the series when they take on England in the fourth ODI on January 23. After losing the series opener at Rajkot, the MS Dhoni-led side bounced back to take a 2-1 lead in the five-match series heading into Mohali.
No.3 bat Virat Kohli who has emerged as an important cog in the line-up got back to his lethal run-scoring ways as he took on the England bowlers at Ranchi to guide India to a seven-wicket win at the JSCA Stadium.
Speaking about the importance of sealing the series at Mohali, before heading to Dharamsala for the fifth ODI, Kohli said, “This next game is really very important. We have to step up and put up a consistent show tomorrow. […] It’s not certain that we can have a game in Dharamsala, so this becomes all the more important tomorrow. So, we have to gear up and stay relaxed and prepare well and hopefully have a nice match.”
“We have to treat every game like that [the last game of the series]. After you lose the first game in the series, you have to treat every game with that sort of mindset and go out and try and win the game; and that’s what we will be trying to do tomorrow.”
Asked if India’s batting will be tested if the ball swings here, he said, “We try to prepare as best as we can. Everyone goes into the match wanting to score runs and not fail. Now that we have done well in the last two games as a batting unit, we hope to continue the same. It’s important that the batting unit does consistently well. The bowling unit has done well in the last three games and it’s important that the batting complements that.”
Talking about India’s bowling attack and England’s below par batting in the last two games, Kohli said, “They [England batsmen] showed great temperament while the Test series was on because you had a bit more time to see off the bowlers by just being more patient. But in one-day cricket you have to play a few shots. Our bowlers were able to create good pressure on their batsmen and that’s what made them make those mistakes that they did. And there were a few good balls and am not taking anything away from our bowlers. If you consistently put pressure on the batsmen and if the wickets are a bit slow and they turn, you have to play shots. And it gets a little difficult. So for any team, for us as well, if the ball is turning and the spinners are bowling in the right areas, you have to force yourself and you end up playing a bad shot. So it’s a combination, our bowlers creating pressure and a few bad shots as well.”
Reflecting on his own performance, he said, “I wasn’t feeling the same way as many people were feeling about my form, to be honest. There is always a balance in international cricket where you will get a phase where you won’t score in four-five games and you’ve just got to keep yourself calm at that point of time because you know it is going to happen at some point or the other. You can’t keep scoring in every game for a period of over 16 months to 18 months; so I was pretty calm at that point of time. […] So, it is all about working hard in the nets regularly and just staying calm and staying patient. If you get frustrated, you sort of tend to increase that kind of lean phase that you are going through. You got to be positive, which I was and I am glad I was able to come out with that knock in the last game.”
Discussing his batting position, he said, “No.3 has been working fine for me. I wouldn’t know too much about the lower order because I haven’t batted too much there. I have played only a few games initially [at those positions] when I was new in the team. I sort of like the pressure situation going in. And I like to finish off games as well. So, it gives me the right platform to do the job for the team, which I like to do.”
“It is suiting me well. Unless I start batting lower down the order in the future or something like that, I would be able to comment on that. But as of now No.3 is the position that works best for me,” he added.
Speaking about Yuvraj Singh playing at his home ground, Kohli said, "He is always really glad to be here. Obviously, MS was very happy [last game] because it was the first game in Ranchi and we saw the kind of the stadium they had made up. So, it was a proud moment for him. And whenever Yuvi plays on this ground, the crowd backs him totally. Everyone gets excited going into their home grounds and hopefully he can put up a great show in his hometown."
Speaking about the Mohali wicket, Kohli said, "It’s always been a lively wicket. It has always been a wicket with a hard surface and a little bit of grass on it. It always helps the bowlers a bit early on. And with the two new balls coming in, it is going to be even more challenging for the top-order batsmen. But it’s the sort of wicket where you can get your eye in and then you can play shots at will. It is going to help the bowlers a bit. So, it is the first 10 overs from each side, which are going to be crucial.”