It is only his first ICC tournament as India captain but the way Virat Kohli has led the team, one feels he has been wearing the captain’s armband for years. Winners of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy under MS Dhoni’s leadership, India are now set to defend their title on Sunday against Pakistan under Virat’s captaincy.
Not once has high expectations and pressure got to him as India’s dependable No. 3 has batted brilliantly. With both Shikhar Dhawan (317 runs) and Rohit Sharma (304 runs) striking form, Virat (253 runs) has seamlessly switched role to that of an anchor in the middle overs before going berserk in the death overs. From overs 41 to 50, Virat has scored 50 runs in 26 balls without getting dismissed.
In the age of technology, Virat said he preferred not drowning himself with excessive visuals. “I have never believed in watching too many videos of anyone. I prepare the best way I can. I believe in my abilities, and I feel like if I'm good enough, if I'm technically good enough, I should be able to counter any bowler that's bowling to me. I don't take extra pressure thinking he's bowling from here, what if he doesn't do that in the game.
“I like to go by what I see coming out of the hand, and yeah, I mean, whether you have played people before or you haven't, this game, as I said, you cannot guarantee a performance.”
Virat said that India’s massive victory over Pakistan in the group game won’t give the team an added advantage in the final. “I don't see any relevance of the first game here because you can never tell how a particular team starts a tournament. Some teams start very confidently and then they fade off. Some teams might not have the best starts, and they come back amazingly, which Pakistan has done. So, everyone is aware of the kind of talent they have in their team, and on their day they can beat any side in the world. That's the kind of players they have, and that's the kind of ability they have in their side”
He hinted at sticking to the same playing XI that helped India register an emphatic nine-wicket victory against Bangladesh in the semi-final. “Not looking to change too many things, because I've said this before, I would back a guy like Hardik who provides you so much balance in conditions that he can be effective as a bowler, and his batting is priceless. If you're chasing a total and you need eight an over and you've lost wickets, he's a guy who can still win you the game. That's the kind of belief he has in his ability and we have that belief in him.
“He can give you a match-winning performance in any game that he plays, and a gun fielder, as well. It's very hard to find a package like that. You need to back guys like him on a regular basis, and you will get those results where the team is in crisis and he stands up and gives a match-winning performance. So far he's been really good in the tournament. When he bowls well, it's a total relief for me as a captain because he can get you seven good overs. He can get you a couple of wickets, as well, and then with the bat and the field we know anywhere. Yeah, I would not think of changing anything at this particular stage.”