Indian batting mainstay Virat Kohli on Tuesday said the Asia Cup starting in Mirpur on Wednesday is a perfect platform to assess the team’s strengths, weaknesses and its current standing on the global stage ahead of the big-ticket World T20 next month.
India lock horns with Bangladesh in the tournament-opener of the Asia Cup T20 in Mirpur on Wednesday, beginning their final phase of preparations for next month’s World T20 to be held in India.
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“Going into the World Cup as I said, the conditions are going to be similar and we will probably be playing all these oppositions at some stage. So, as many teams as we play before the World Cup, it gives us a great opportunity to assess what the teams are like, what the balance is like, what their strengths and weaknesses are, and where do we stand compared to them. You can see it (Asia Cup) as a whole package before the World Cup,” Kohli said at the pre-match press conference in Mirpur.
India begin the tournament on the back of some very impressive outings in the slam-bang format against Australia and Sri Lanka.
“Asia Cup has always been a challenging tournament, it’s like a mini event as far as the sub-continental teams are concerned. It’s an opportunity to test yourself as I said against the best teams in the sub continent. It’s a competitive tournament with different opposition with different set of skills testing you all the time.”
Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s availability in the opening game of the tournament remains doubtful after he suffered a muscle spams injury during a training session.
This has prompted the BCCI to rush Parthiv Patel as a back-up.
Kohli did not clarify on whether Dhoni will sit out of Wednesday’s match.
“With Parthiv coming in, we will have to sit down and see if that situation comes where he has to play. We will then have to sort out a combination, the best possible for the team in terms of the batting order but, as of now, we cannot. Unless we have a decision we cannot sit down and make a concrete plan.”
“Obviously a discussion will take place, it will happen sometime today during the practise session as to what needs to be done if that situation arises. Yeah, obviously, it’s going to be different from what we have been playing with till now. We just have to wait and see how the situation pans out,” Kohli said.
Emboldened by the recent success at home and away in the T20 format, Dhoni had recently said that the team is in auto- pilot mode, and Kohli looked at the remark very positively.
“MS was spot on because I think it comes from the fact that we play a lot of T20 cricket. In IPL, we get so many games to play and execute our skills, so you keep getting better every season.
“If you see the number of games being played by players in the IPL, the numbers are very high, so everyone knows what needs to be done and at what stage of the game in that tournament. I think even MS is not required to put in so much thought on what needs to be done because the players are experienced. That takes the load off. So that’s why he said the team is in auto pilot mode. I think that’s what he meant.
“That everyone knows what needs to be done at what stage throughout the 20 overs, be it batting, bowling or in the field. I think it’s a very good atmosphere the team is in right now. Everyone is very sure what needs to be done.”
The jury is still out on whether Pakistan’s convicted spot-fixer Mohammad Amir should have been allowed to play international cricket but Indian vice-captain Virat Kohli is “happy” to find the talented left-arm pacer back in their national team.
Amir was banned for five years for his involvement in spot-fixing during the England tour of 2010 and has made a comeback this year after serving the suspension period.
When Kohli was asked about the game against Pakistan, he did speak about Amir’s return.
“I don’t feel anything different playing Pakistan. It’s the same game of cricket. I look at all oppositions with the same view. Matches against Pakistan are certainly competitive. People may feel excited but for players it’s the same as any other team. I am happy to see Amir back, it’s good to see that he has realised his mistake, learnt from it and rectified himself,” he said.
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Kohli is one of the few non-Pakistani international cricketers who has welcomed Amir’s comeback.
In fact, Kohli went to the extent of saying that Amir could have been amongst the top three bowlers, had he not strayed.
“I have always believed that he (Amir) is a world class bowler and had he been around for the five years that he was banned, he would have certainly been a top three bowlers in the world. He has a lot of talent, has got pace, bounce a very good yorker,” he said.
For Kohli, the best part was that Amir admitted his mistake.
“I wish him all the best. He has worked hard to make a comeback and it takes courage to do what he did.”
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