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I visualize and think positively before a big game: Virat Kohli

The master batsman says he visualizes pulling his team out of trouble and that helps him perform consistently under pressure

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.

Ahead of the mega final, Virat revealed the secret behind his machine-like success. He said the key to his performance was positive thinking. “I visualise a lot. I see myself in difficult situations and actually convincing myself that I can pull the team out in those situations. It won't happen every time, but eight out of ten times it will end up happening because you're so convinced about it. So, I think it's how you prepare mentally is key in big games. That's something that I've worked on, and it's really worked well for me every time I've visualized and I've thought positively about the big games.”

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.” 


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Sublime India roll past Bangladesh to enter final

The Men in Blue deliver a statement of intent ahead of the final with a massive nine-wicket win at Edgbaston

Matches that have a lot riding on them show a team’s true character. Many collapse under pressure while some rise to the occasion and show their class. India have a made a habit of showcasing their artistry when the stage is grand. As they have done regularly in this tournament, the defending champions brushed aside their opponent to seal a convincing win.

India qualified for the ICC Champions Trophy final for the fourth time, the most in tournament’s history with an impactful nine-wicket win over Bangladesh. The tournament favourites will now have a chance to defend their title when they meet Pakistan in the deciding clash on Sunday.

After bowlers restricted Bangladesh to a below-par 264-7, India’s top-order fired in unison as the target was achieved with 59 balls to spare. In-form Shikhar Dhawan cracked 46 from 34 balls, Rohit Sharma compiled a delightful unbeaten century (123 off 129 balls) and a dominant Virat Kohli struck 96 off 78 balls to secure an easy win. At no point during India’s chase did the batters looked in trouble. The short balls were dispatched to the boundary and those pitched up were timed to perfection. It was Yuvraj Singh’s 300th ODI appearance for India, but the star all-rounder was not required to wield his willow as the 178 runs stand between Rohit and Virat did enough damage. India through their massive win also delivered a statement of intent that going past them in the final will require a special effort.

Earlier, India’s fifth bowler turned out to be their crucial weapon as not only did it help in breaking a crucial stand but also resulted in stemming the flow of runs. Virat had no option but to turn to Kedar Jadhav after Hardik Pandya’s four over had cost 34 runs. The 100 plus stand between Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim for the third wicket had lasted 20 overs and was turning and was frustrating the Indian bowlers. 

Kedar took the pace off and with his round arm action created an angle that proved difficult for the two batsmen to work around. Tamim was looking to slog sweep him, but missed the line and was bowled as India broke the crucial stand. Kedar then dismissed Mushfiqur, who hit straight to Virat at short mid-wicket.

The two wickets brought India back into the game and stopped Bangladesh’s bid for a strong comeback. Bhuvneshwar stuck in his first over as Soumya Sarkar chopped one straight onto the stumps. An expert swing bowler, Bhunvneshwar bowled tight lines and often troubled the batsmen. He also removed Sabbir Rahman in a traditional dismissal built by creating pressure. Having come out with an aggressive approach to unsettle the bowlers, India mounted pressure by bowling 13 straight dot balls. Rahman tried to break shackles by cutting loose but ended up hitting straight to Ravindra Jadeja at point. Bangladesh were 31-2 in the seventh over, but the third wicket stand helped them recover.

India again bowled well in the second passage and picked wickets regularly in the latter stage. Hardik had Tamim caught at mid on off just his second ball, but he overstepped and it was declared a no-ball. He had another go at Tamim when the batsman chopped the ball back onto the stumps, but Hardik overstepped again and the Bangladesh opener survived again.

Brief Score: Bangladesh 264/7 in 50 overs (Tamim 70, Mushfiqur Rahim 61, Jasprit Bumrah 2/40) lose to India 265/1 in 40.1 overs (Rohit Sharma 123 not out, Virat Kohli 96 not out, Shikhar Dhawan 46) by 9 wickets.

Man of the Match: Rohit Sharma for his 123 not out (129b, 15x4, 1x6)

BCCI Staff

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