Indian captain Virat Kohli has heaped praise on his young team-mate Kedar Jadhav for his “outstanding” knock of 76-ball 120 in the first ODI against England, describing it as one of the best calculative innings he had seen.
Kohli (122 off 105 balls) and Jadhav, whose 120 was his career-best, smashed superlative hundreds to help India chase down the stiff target of 351 for a three-wicket win in the first of the three-match ODI series here last night.
“One word for it is outstanding. He (Jadhav) put a lot of pressure into the spinners. It was one of the best calculative innings I have seen, 150 strike rate was outstanding. Some of the shots he played, he told it was instinctive. I could not believe,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
Kohli and Jadhav rattled up a sensational 200-run partnership for the fifth wicket to set up the platform for the win. Jadhav struck 12 fours and four sixes in his aggressive innings of over 150 strike rate.
“Just to have another guy who is willing to do from any situation, to keep pushing, knew how exactly to bat on this pitch which was even better to bat on in the second innings. His shots were all clean, not slogs, and that’s way to bat at number 6. Was glad I was out there with him,” gushed Kohli.
Kohli, for whom it was his first day in office as India captain in all three formats of the game, said Jadhav was disheartened that he could not get the team past the victory line against New Zealand in the previous ODI series.
“He was disheartened versus New Zealand that he could not get the team across the line. I told him there was no point thinking what you could have done and told him to keep pushing hard,” said Kohli.
Asked how he and Jadhav tackled what looked like a hopeless situation with four top batsmen back in the hut for a mere 63 runs in the 12th over, Kohli said they decided to counter-punch their way.
“We spoke about how to tackle that situation and decided it the best way was counterattack. No wickets had been lost to good balls, we committed errors and the wicket was better to bat in the second innings. The ball travels very very far. We could hit sixes to put pressure on the opposition. It’s one of the best partnerships I have been part of. We have chased 350 before but not from 63/4,” said the captain. “We believed in the Test series we could win from any situation. This was the same,” he added.
Kohli admitted that some of the shots he himself had played during matches made him wonder afterwards how he had done them. “I can recall many moments when I felt I did not do this, don’t know how it got executed. If you are focused on the goal, the target you want to achieve, and you are looking at the team’s interest all the time, you end up playing shots you don’t believe you are capable of achieving. Once you got the momentum you can pull off shots which you won’t believe. It’s just one of those things with all international batsmen.”
He said the amazing victory, only the third time India had chased down 350-plus successfully, will have a huge bearing in the rest of the series and for the upcoming Champions Trophy in England where his team will be the defending champions. “We don’t have time. The way the whole team responded under pressure, builds the confidence for the next game, then next game and on to England,” he said.
Kohli said the team had options in the middle order with another talented player Manish Pandey in it. “Manish has batted at 4 or 5, Kedar at 6. Manish is (also) part of our scheme of things. It’s difficult to find people with that kind of talent, both Manish and Kedar are talented. Both are good enough to play at 4-5-6.
“We have to figure out the best combination in the team. You cannot go with all youth. It is the balance you have to maintain and give youngsters chance when it is time,” he concluded.