By: Press Trust of India | Melbourne | | February 19, 2015 2:10:04 pm
Virat Kohli might be the “kingpin” of India’s batting in the ongoing cricket World Cup but South Africa coach Russell Domingo said his team is not making any special plans for the swashbuckling player ahead of the two sides’ pool clash here on Sunday. (Full Coverage| Venues | Fixtures)
“We all know that Virat Kohli has been an outstanding player for India in the last couple of years. His record has been phenomenal. He is obviously the kingpin in their batting line-up. But we were talking last night in dinner about guys like Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Ajinkya Rahane,” Domingo told mediapersons at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“They (India) have got a seriously good batting line-up and it’s not our style to target one individual player in a batting line-up. That’s not how we go about our stuff. It’s very much respecting the whole unit. Because we know they have match-winners right through their batting line-up,” Domingo said on a cautious note ahead of the big game.
The Proteas coach tried sounding modest when asked about his team’s 3-0 World Cup record against the defending champions having won in 1992, 1999 and 2011.
“I am not sure that we have thought about it in that way. We have been very focussed on our preparations. I do not know whether it’s a psychological advantage or not, but we can’t take India lightly. India are current world champions and a wonderful ODI side. Whatever we have done in the past will count for very little when we play on Sunday,” said Domingo when reminded of the statistics.
While the result of this match will have very little bearing on both teams’ quarter-final qualification but Domingo doesn’t want to think on those lines.
“Results are always important. In front of a big crowd, against a quality side like India, if we win, it would serve as motivation. Everytime, you win a cricket match, you need to appreciate it as you don’t win international matches everyday. A lot of positives will be taken if we can beat India at an early stage,” Domingo said.
Although Domingo wanted to downplay the hype surrounding this match, his answer was a giveaway.
“We heard that tickets have been close to being sold out. It will be big stage for some of our players, who haven’t experienced such atmosphere before. There is lot you can take out of a good result. Every game that we play for South Africa is a big game. We know there’s always a bit of hype when India are in town. They have got massive support and some really big players in the side.”
Domingo agrees with Dhoni’s view that Indian team was freshened up by the eight-day break that it got after the tri-series ODI games and that was the reason for its win against Pakistan.
“To be honest, we didn’t watch too much of that game (India vs Pakistan) as we had our own game. Our focus was purely on ourselves.
“I heard one of them (Dhoni) saying that there was an eight-day off and that really freshened them up. That could have been a point. They have some of the best players in the world in their side. Agreed that they have had a very tough tour of Australia but World Cup is their main priority now. We knew that they would come fresh. Come Sunday, we need to be on top of our game,” the coach added.
Domingo said that he didn’t get time till now to analyse what could be India’s playing combinations but will “sit down with his video analyst to try and figure out what can be India’s playing XI on Sunday.”
“Probably I will be able to answer more assertively after having a chat with our analysts.”
Dale Steyn did have a bowl at the MCG nets although the world’s premier fast bowler didn’t go full-tilt after recovering from a bout of sinusitis.
“He had a run today. He has had a bit of sinusitis but nothing to worry about it. New Zealand can be pretty cold and I am sure you guys must have also had a sniff of that, Christchurch especially,” he said.
Domingo expects that there will be some juice in the MCG pitch which can be extracted by a quality seam bowler like Vernon Philander.
“There seemed to be a bit of bounce last time and then the wicket had something on offer. Hope there will be something in the wicket for Vernon as he is good bowler, when there is something in the wicket for him. He is someone most effective in world cricket when wicket does something. I hope he can play big role for us on Sunday,” the coach sounded hopeful.
Domingo, however, is not too bothered about the net run-rate at this stage of the competition.
“Net run-rate is the last thing on my mind after winning a tight game against Zimbabwe. There’s still too much cricket to be played to be worried about such small things,” he said.
Domingo feels that MCG will primarily be a good batting track but hasn’t yet decided whether the Proteas would go with five specialist bowlers or four with two part-timers.