What’s the story?
Indian captain Virat Kohli has admitted to having a hard talk with his teammates following the unexpected defeat to Sri Lanka at The Oval. The 28-year-old’s honest criticism played a major role in helping the ‘Men in Blue’ hammer South Africa at the same venue on Sunday and book a place in the semi-finals of the 2017 Champions Trophy.
Kohli divulged, “You have to be honest. You have to sometimes say things that hurt. That’s what I believe in. You have to lay it out in front of them that this is what we did wrong, including me, and we need to take it on the chin and accept it and prove it. You have to be good enough to do that for the country and you have to be good enough to bounce back.”
“You can’t do the same mistakes over and over again. That sort of mindset is really helping all of us to come together as a unit and make things happen. It’s not about asking two, three players to do it. We are asking everyone to do it and everyone is responding really well. Until you have a team effort, you cannot win games, especially in conditions that you are not familiar with.”
After beginning their title defence with a 124-run victory over arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston, India looked ready to lock horns with Sri Lanka. However, they were humbled by Angelo Mathews’ team despite registering a formidable total on a batting-friendly pitch.
The heart of the matter
The loss to Sri Lanka meant that the game against South Africa became a virtual knockout clash for India. Coming into the contest with the knowledge that another slip-up would pull the plug on their Champions Trophy campaign, Kohli’s team put in a complete performance and vanquished the Proteas by 8 wickets.
With the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah leading the bowling attack, they were able to restrict a powerful batting lineup to a paltry score. The discernible change in intensity allowed them to sustain pressure from the very first over. Opener Shikhar Dhawan continued his sparkling run and joined hands with Kohli to ace the comfortable chase.
India take on neighbours Bangladesh in the semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday. Kohli would want his troops to maintain their focus and come up with another strong showing in the high-stakes clash.
Since taking over the limited-overs captaincy from wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni, Kohli has been trying earnestly to mould the Indian team in his own image. The honest talk with his teammates shows that he is beginning to make an impact in the leadership department in ODIs too.