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‘England doesn’t operate on aggression’: Ben Stokes on Virat Kohli’s outbursts

Asked whether he preferred a "nice or spiky" Virat Kohli, the 29-year-old all-rounder said, "Personally, I prefer the Virat who doesn't get runs. That would be good."

By: PTI | Pune |
Updated: March 26, 2021 7:43:52 am
Ben Stokes celebrating a wicket with his teammates during England's fourth T20I against India. (BCCI)

Animated and aggressive body language might work well for Virat Kohli and his Indian team but that doesn’t have a bearing on England’s modus operandi, said their premier all-rounder Ben Stokes.

The question was in reference to India captain Kohli’s aggressive in-your-face demeanour while fielding or celebrating a fall of a wicket.

“Every team and every player has a certain way of operating in the field, which makes them successful. As a team over the last four-five years, that’s not the way that works for us,” Stokes said on the eve of their must-win second ODI against India here.

“We stick to what we do best and what we make is to build a better side. Each team is entitled to their own way of operations. India have there and we have ours,” the dashing all-rounder said.

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Asked whether he preferred a “nice or spiky” Virat, Stokes gave a smart reply: “Personally, I prefer Virat doesn’t get runs, because that’s not good for us.”

After their 66-run loss in the first ODI, England risk of being usurped for their No 1 ranking but Stokes said it’s not their driving force.

“We deserve to be No 1 because of our results and how we played our cricket and we won’t go away from that. Being No 1 is obviously a fantastic thing to have next to your name as a team, but it’s not our driving force.

“Our driving force is the way that we go about it and our attitude towards playing the game. And that’s what’s made us be successful, and the more successful we are obviously the more chance and the more opportunity we’ve got to be at No 1.”

In absence of Joe Root, the England all-rounder was promoted to No 3 spot from being a finisher. Stokes revealed that he’s not changing his mindset for the new role on suggestion of the designated England No 3.

“I did actually message Root just asking about his mindset at No 3. He was pretty clear to me and just said ‘play the way that you play’. Just because he plays a certain way doesn’t mean that I need to try and play like.

“At No 3, potentially, I would be facing 100 balls, compared to maybe 60-70 like I normally do. I haven’t looked to change too much, just might be facing a slightly different situation, especially when I’m starting off my innings.”

While there would be comparisons with Root, Stokes would ideally prefer to follow the Test captain’s mantra.

“There’s gonna be talk whoever is going to fill that place with Root not being here. People will keep talking but I’ll just go out and do what I’ve been asked to do.”

Stokes is also likely to open for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL but the all-rounder said it would have no bearing on where he bats for England in The T20 World Cup.

“It’s a talking point, and it always seems to pop up, but everyone deserves to be where they are in that batting lineup. Why do we change that?” he asked.

He feels that in the England line-up, each person has got his slot deservingly.

“In our T20 batting line-up, everyone deserves to be where they deserve to play. We’ve been formidable in the white ball format for over a number of years. Just because we lost the T20 series doesn’t mean we need to start changing things around.”

With twin injury blows to Eoin Morgan (split webbing) and Sam Billings (collar bone), England may hand a debut to Liam Livingstone, four years after he represented the country in T20Is.

Stokes is confident that a “fearless” Livingstone would embrace the opportunity if picked for the second ODI.

“He’s one of those guys that won’t let the occasion get on top of him if he had that opportunity. He’s a fearless cricketer. He’s got the type of attitude that we want to be involved in our set-up going forward,” he said.

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