Virat Kohli has admitted that he expected India would have to chase a run a ball target against Sri Lanka yesterday, but praised his bowlers for the way they came back into the game. Kohli also revealed that the decision to chase was based on the hope that the pitch would play well under lights.
India secured a crushing 9-wicket win in the first of the five match ODI series against Sri Lanka in Dambulla yesterday. However, at one stage it looked like the game would be a much closer contest as Sri Lanka got off to a fine start and found themselves at 141 for 2 at the halfway stage of their innings.
But as was the case in the preceding Test series, the home side suffered another batting collapse to eventually fold up at a mere 216. Kohli has admitted that at one stage he was expecting a tougher total to chase. "They got off to a very good start. We thought we'd be chasing something close to 300; it was a brilliant wicket for batting.”
"They got off to a very good start. We thought we'd be chasing something close to 300; it was a brilliant wicket for batting,” Kohli said after the match.
However, the Indian spinners led by Axar Patel, who finished with figures of 3/34, brought the Men in Blue back into the game as they bamboozled the Sri Lankan batsmen in quick succession. While Patel’s selection came as a surprise to some, Kohli explained the rationale behind the choice, saying, “We thought Axar was a gun fielder and he brings his batting into play; and felt that one wrist spinner is enough. Also, Axar is a power-hitting batsman capable of hitting the big shots and that helps us. If we get a dry wicket we could go in with three spinners and a fast bowling all-rounder. At the start of a series, we need to up our batting and Axar brings that balance for us as a team."
After the Indian spinners bundled out the Lankans for a paltry score, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli took over the proceedings for India as they stitched together a swashbuckling 197-run partnership for the second wicket which saw Dhawan finish with 132* off just 90 balls, while Kohli managed 82 off 70. The Indian skipper heaped praise on Dhawan for his performance saying, “The ball was coming onto the bat like a dream under lights and Shikhar (Dhawan) and
Despite India’s convincing win yesterday, the Indian skipper emphasized the need prepare for the 2019 World Cup and experiment with regard to the same so that India can have the best possible squad going into the tournament.
"I feel we need to start planning for the 2019 World Cup around 24 months in advance, try to experiment a bit here and there. We are taking that as a challenge and are looking to try out different things, things we wouldn't do usually. You can see a lot of surprises over the next few games. All the guys have bought into it and I am very excited,” he said.