Virat Kohli was very pleased with the effort of his teammates against Afghanistan on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi, and stated that the squad is always positive when they approach a game. Kohli further added that the team management trusted the players, and have backed them during their tough times.
After being asked to bat first, India openers Rohit Sharma (74) and KL Rahul (69) partnered for a 140-run opening stand before the former fell to Karim Jamat in the 15th over. Rishabh Pant (27*) and Hardik Pandya (35*), who was promoted up the order, stitched up a 63-run stand and powered India to 210/2. Notably, Rohit and Rahul became only the second Indian opening pair to put on a century partnership for the first wicket in a T20 World Cup, after Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir.
In reply, Afghanistan lost thier openers, Hazratullah Zazai (13) and Mohammad Shahzad (0) very early in the innings. Rahmanullah Gurbaz (19), Naib (18), and Najibullah Zadran (11) could not contribute much to the Afghanistan innings in the middle overs as Indian bowlers restricted the run flow. However, Mohammad Nabi (35) and Karim Janat (42*) partnered for a 57-run stand and accelerated the innings, but a disciplined bowling performance from India handed a 66-run defeat to Afghanistan. For India, Mohammad Shami was the pick of the bowlers as he scalped three wickets, whereas veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin clinched two wickets in his comeback game, and played a pivotal role in restricting the Mohammad Nabi-led side to 144/7.
Reflecting on his team's performance captain Virat Kohli stated that, Team India always approaches the matches positively. He further lauded Ravichandran Ashwin for his stellar performance with the ball, and stated that he was pleased with the offspinner's contribution to the victory.
"Much better wicket to be fair. We spoke about the fact that in the other games, if we just had two overs of free-flowing batting, then that sends a message to the opposition that we are going to put you under the pump. When we do that, we know how we can play. Sometimes, you do fall to the pressure and have to accept that. T20 cricket is a very instinctive game, in batting, bowling and decision-making. We do make decisions on the go. Top three is mostly settled unless situations like today when the openers batted all the way through and the power-hitters were ready.
"We don't always decide early to go hard, but we do back ourselves and when we do get going, we know what we can do. Well, yes that is the plan (to keep playing this way) but as I said, sometimes you just give in to the pressure. The other teams bowled really well to us. Yes, it (net run rate) was to be honest. We are always positive, and so were thinking about it. The return of Ash (is the biggest positive), we saw him doing well in the IPL and when he does this, we get control in the middle overs. That's what I'm most pleased about (today), " said Kohli after the match.
Rohit Sharma, who was adjudged Man of the match for his exuberant performance with the bat, heaped praise on his fellow opener KL Rahul, and stated that his batting was exceptional. Rohit further added he is ready to do whatever the team requires for winning matches.
"We wanted to get off to a good start which didn't happen in the first two games. There was a conscious effort to lay a good platform for the other batters to express themselves later. Exceptional batting from KL as well. Looking at the trend, they've batted first in all their games. We were looking to field first, but it was a good pitch to bat on. A good start and a respectable total were very important from our side. We knew run rate could come into play and we wanted to win by a good margin, glad that we did that. Whatever the team requires, I'll try to do that. Today the need was for a quick start, normally I try to assess early on but today I had to play a bit differently, " said Rohit Sharma after the match.
India will next face Scotland on Friday, November 5 in Dubai.