Heading into India's semi-final against Bangladesh today, Virat Kohli has indicated that India will go into the game with the same side that comprehensively beat South Africa in their last game. This means that Ravichandran Ashwin will play his second consecutive game ahead of Umesh Yadav.
Indian captain Virat Kohli spoke to the media on the eve of their Champions Trophy semi-final against Bangladesh and dismissed any concerns over India's lower and middle order. "No, that's not a concern. Obviously, as a batsman you want to finish off games, so you are not necessarily going to get out thinking my middle-order hasn't got any game time. So, given an opportunity, everyone would like to finish games convincingly and, as I said everyone is batting well," Kohli said as reported by TOI.
India's top order has flourished since the beginning of the tournament with Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, in particular, getting India off good starts in all the games so far. And though this has resulted in limited opportunities for the likes of Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jhadav, Kohli has backed his batsmen to come good when called upon.
"In the practice games, everyone has got a hit, and we know Kedar and Hardik are playing really well at the moment, so we are not bothered at all. Rather they (Kedar and Hardik) are looking for an opportunity if the team is in a bit of trouble. I am sure those two guys are going to step up and take the team through along with Ash (Ravichandran Ashwin) and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) as well."
The 28-year old also praised his teammates' mindset as they awaited their turn, "Those guys are actually waiting for opportunities, and that's a great mindset to have. They are not sitting comfortably thinking 'oh these guys are going to do the job'. They are actually prepared if a crisis situation comes in... 'we want to be the match winners' (that) is the energy they are creating."
Although India are no strangers to being in the final stages of major tournaments, Kohli believes India can't bank just on past experience in such games. "Yeah, we have played these kind of games before quite a few times but there are no guarantees in this sport. As we have seen in the league stages as well, a lot of teams have surprised the opposition, and we are certainly not taking anything for granted"."We will use whatever momentum we have gained in this tournament to execute what we want to. We are not going to go according to past results and what we have done in the past tournaments. Going into a big game like this, we are going to treat it as how we treated the last game, and our mindset does not differ."
On the other hand, Bangladesh have been on a resurgent run ever since the 2015 ICC World Cup. More importantly, they even beat New Zealand in the group stage of the Champions Trophy to seal today's semi-final date against India. And Kohli understandably had a word of praise for the Tigers' performance so far.
"It is no surprise anymore to anyone that they are doing really well, and they have really improved their cricket, and it is a credit to their set-up and the kind of players they have now who are taking more responsibility. Bangladesh is a very dangerous side on their day and everyone realises that. Bangladesh have taken huge strides. I mean they are in the top-eight sides in the world. So yeah, they are a very competitive side," Kohli said.
Finally, Kohli also revealed that India will play an unchanged team against Bangladesh which means that Ravichandran Ashwin will once again feature ahead of Umesh Yadav. "I think Ashwin was brilliant in the last game, and I don't see any good reason to change that. The team played really well. It was a complete performance, and I certainly don't think that there is any need to change anything."
"We gave a lot of people chances in the practice games and he (Umesh) did bowl well in that game but that does not mean that you necessarily play someone who has done well against a particular opposition in a practice game. In the first two games of the ICC tournament R Ashwin didn’t get the chance in the playing squad but against South Africa, he performed really well and captain also recognise it."
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