What’s the story?
Pakistan fast bowler Junaid Khan has expressed confidence in his ability to restrict India captain Virat Kohli in the upcoming Champions Trophy citing his previous record against the batsman. Khan has dismissed Kohli three times in their four previous meetings and off the 22 balls that he has bowled to the right hander, he has conceded just 2 runs.
“I have dismissed him in three out of the four matches we have faced each other. He is a brilliant batsman but he has failed against me,” Khan told The Express Tribune.
India and Pakistan go face-to-face in their tournament opener on June 4 in Birmingham, in what could be an intense affair given the seasoned rivalry between the two nations and the occasion of an ICC event.
The 27-year-old Pakistani believes that he holds a psychological advantage over the India captain, and although it has been four years since the two squared off on the field, Kohli would feel the pressure of the past record.
“When I face him, I will consider him the same Kohli. I may be wrong but I think he will also think of me as the same Junaid that has taken his wicket before, which might make him go on the defensive a bit more and therefore lose his wicket,” said Khan.
In case you didn’t know...
The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 would be an eight-team tournament, and it is being organized at four-year intervals over the past three editions. There have been seven editions of the league since the first one in 1998 and India are the defending champions, having won the previous tournament in 2013.
Owing to the constantly deteriorating diplomatic relations India-Pakistan cricket encounters have been limited to ICC tournaments and Asia Cups, especially since the Mumbai terrors attacks of 2008. However, Pakistan did visit India for a short limited-overs series in 2012-13.
Khan feels that the experience of playing county cricket in England that he possesses would hold him in good stead. “I know how these wickets behave in this weather, so I know what kind of deliveries to bowl and how to bowl them.”
Having full faith in his captain, Sarfraz Ahmed, Khan went on to say, “I have played two ODI matches under his captaincy against the West Indies and we won both matches, with me claiming three wickets.
“He is a good leader and encourages the bowlers to bowl the way they want to, while also giving his own input.”
While India-Pakistan matches have always been tense affairs, the mind games before the on-field battle seem to be preposterous and uncalled-for. Whether Khan walks the talk when he bowls to Kohli on June 4 is for us to see but the lip service shouldn't bother the India captain who has seen enough bowlers target him before big games.
With that said, the game in Birmingham would be the first time the two sides would square off in a 50-overs game since the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, and hence, the anticipation of an intense contest cannot be negated.Published 27 May 2017, 15:46 IST