ICC Cricket World Cup 2015: Brian Lara expects Virat Kohli to be "outstanding" in the knockouts
West Indies legend Brian Lara has backed Indian batting mainstay Virat Kohli to play a starring role in the knockout stages of the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup. India qualified for the quarter-finals after winning all 6 games in their group and will play Bangladesh at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) for a place in the semis. The 26-year-old right-hander began his World Cup campaign with a bang, scoring a 126-ball 107 against Pakistan at the Adelaide Oval, but hasn’t made the most of his starts since then.
"Kohli has got one hundred so far and maybe he has been a little lukewarm, but he looks ominous. He is a big-game player and the World Cup is getting into that stage now,” Lara told in an exclusive interview to NDTV.
“I know what he is capable of and I think he is going to be outstanding for the remainder of the tournament.”
Impressed by Shikhar Dhawan’s confidence: Lara
After enduring a disastrous time on the tour of Australia prior to the mega event, Shikhar Dhawan, meanwhile, has turned over a new leaf and is looking a different batsman altogether in the tournament so far. He started the campaign with a half-century and century against Pakistan and South Africa, respectively, and followed it up with yet another imposing century against Ireland. The left-hander is India’s leading run-getter in the competition, with 337 runs in 6 matches at an average of 56.16 including 2 centuries.
Talking about the opener, the 45-year-old remarked that he has been very impressed with Dhawan’s confidence and that he, along with Kohli, could be one of the key men for the Indians.
"I love Dhawan's cockiness and his confidence. That's a big part of any batsman, especially an opening batsman. India need that and I think he is going to be a force to reckon with in the remaining matches of the World Cup,” Lara, who played in 5 World Cups for the West Indies, said.
The Delhi batsman also drew praises from former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, who said that the 29-year-old has shown in this tournament that he has the ability to rise up to the occasion and perform.
“Dhawan was unfortunately run out against Pakistan but his partnership with Kohli set the tone for India in this tournament. And then he followed that knock up with a brilliant hundred against South Africa - against Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander. And he did it at the MCG - the boundaries are huge over there. The sixes that he hit over there were terrific.
"That was just the kind of batting that India know he is capable of. Now he has shown the world what he can do as well,” Gavaskar added.