Kohli heaps praise on resurgent Pakistan

Virat Kohli, Pakistan, India

A batting masterclass from Rohit Sharma (123*) and Virat Kohli (96*) meant India seal a 9 wicket win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston, and set up a mouthwatering showdown against arch-rivals Pakistan at The Oval on Sunday (June 18) against Pakistan. It will be India’s fourth final in seven ICC tournaments since 2010.

India skipper Virat Kohli lauded the skillset of his new-ball bowlers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, who shared four wickets between them and were crucial in limiting Bangladesh to only 264-7 on a fresh Edgbaston surface.

“They’ve been terrific initially, and in the later stages as well. Their length and line has been impeccable, so consistent, bowling close to the batsmen, always there with an opportunity to get a wicket. Even in conditions which are not offering too much, bowling such lines that we can produce wicket-taking opportunities.” Kohli said.

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As for Pakistan — whom they had convincingly won against in Birmingham in their Champions Trophy opener — Kohli described their resurgence as magnificent and said his team would approach the much-anticipated finale just like any other game.

“Credit to them, they’ve turned around things for themselves really well. They’ve beaten sides that looked really strong against them, but the belief just showed on the field [with] the way they played together as a team.

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“What we are going to try to do is repeat the similar sort of cricket that we have played so far, knowing the strengths and weaknesses they have. Obviously we’ll have to plan a bit according to that, but I don’t know there’s much that we need to change as a team. I don’t think we need to look too far away from what we are doing as a group, I think focus on our skills and our abilities and believe in ourselves on that particular day, and we’ll give ourselves a good chance to go out there and do some good things for the team.” he said.

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On the other hand, Pakistan captain Sarfraz is hopeful of fully-fit bowling attack before Sunday’s finale after a series of injuries that struck their team before and during their Wednesday’s semi-final against England; Mohammad Amir was left out of the all-important clash after he suffered a back spasm while Hasan Ali, who is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament so far, and Imad Wasim also displayed sign of discomfort during their eight-wicket triumph over the tournament hosts.

“Hopefully, he will recover for the finals,” Sarfraz said. “Obviously, he’s our main bowler. He’s our best strike bowler.”

“I think he has a little bit of a shin problem, but he’s okay and bowling extremely well for us,” Sarfraz said. “I’m very happy about my youngsters performing, especially Hasan who is improving day-by-day, Shadab has also and now Fakhar Zaman, he’s playing in his third match and now he’s batting just like a champion batsman.

The kind of form that India’s powerful batting line-up is in sets up an exciting contest with Pakistan’s pace bowlers, who have arguably been the best bowling unit of the tournament.

Read: Dominant India set up epic Pakistan decider