Virat Kohli in top form as Men in Blue move to second spot with a big win


Virat Kohli raises his bat after hitting the winning runs and also completing his century during their match against Bangladesh (ANI)

New Zealand is at the top with a better net-run-rate. Bangladesh is in the seventh spot with one win and three losses

Our Bureau
Mumbai/Pune/New Delhi

It was ‘King Kohli’ special at Pune’s MCA Stadium as India beat Bangladesh by seven wickets. Virat brought up his 48th ODI ton, 78th international century and 26,000 international runs, causing some movement in cricket record books. This is also his first WC century since 2015 and overall third.

“Sorry for stealing it (the Player of the Match award) from Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja). I wanted to make a big contribution. Have made fifties in World Cups, wanted to finish it off this time. (Free hits to start off) I was telling Shubman that even if you dream about this situation, you go back to sleep. It was a dream start. It just calms you down. The pitch was good and allowed me to play my game – hit the gaps and find the boundaries whenever I could. Great atmosphere in the dressing room. The spirit is there for everyone to see. You need to create some momentum in the changing room to come out and play like this. Special feeling to play in front of such crowds,” said Virat in a post-match presentation.

Coming to the match, Bangladesh opted to bat first and there was a 91-run opening stand between Tanzid Hasan (51 in 43 balls with four boundaries and three sixes) and Litton Das (66 in 82 balls, with seven fours).

With four wins in four matches, India is in the second spot in the points table with eight points. New Zealand is at the top with a better net-run-rate. Bangladesh is in the seventh spot with one win and three losses.

Virat became the ‘Man of the Match’ for his ton.

Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja celebrate the wicket of Bangladesh’s Mushfiqur Rahim (ANI)

“We were not chasing big totals well before”: Gill

Following his side’s seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in the ICC Cricket World Cup, India’s rising batting sensation Shubman Gill said that the team aims to carry on with their momentum after completing easy chases in all their four matches so far, adding that before the tournament, the team was not able to chase big totals this well.

He also expressed happiness at getting his maiden WC fifty and said that he is learning how seniors like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma bat in big matches during World Cups.

An explosive first wicket partnership between skipper Rohit Sharma and Shubman Gill, followed by Virat Kohli’s 48th ODI ton sealed India a seven-wicket win over Bangladesh in their ICC Cricket World Cup match at Pune on Thursday.

On chasing targets this tournament, Gill said during post-match conference, “I mean, you can see how confident they (top order batters) are, the way they are scoring runs. Definitely, I think this is one of the things that was talked about, especially leading up to the World Cup, that we were not chasing that well, those big totals, but I think having won all the four matches while chasing, I think it’s a great way to have that momentum with us in those big games that we willl have moving forward.”

Gill said that it was disappointing to miss the first two games but is glad to get some game time now.

“Obviously felt nice (on getting a fifty). When I was a little sick, I was feeling a bit disappointed about missing out on those opportunities, but definitely felt nice to get some game time,” said Gill.

On learning from Rohit and Virat, Gill said that he is trying to learn how they play in big games.

“To see them how they go about their business in World Cup and in big games is what I always try to learn from them. I think there’s a fine line between sometimes being too aggressive or going in the shell, especially playing big games. But I think the way they play, the way their mindset is playing those big games in the World Cup is what I try to learn from them,” said Gill.

Ben Stokes confirms his availability for crucial clash

Star all-rounder Ben Stokes confirmed that he is fit to play England’s crucial ICC Cricket World Cup clash against South Africa. England will take on South Africa on Saturday.

Though England bounced back after a nine-wicket loss to New Zealand in the tournament opener with a win over Bangladesh, they succumbed to Afghanistan in Delhi in a shocker. South Africa also had started off well with wins against Sri Lanka and Australia, but became victims of an upset against Netherlands, who had made it to the tournament through qualifiers.

Stokes did not feature in the first three matches of the side due to a hip niggle. He had come out of ODI retirement to help England defend the title. Stokes being in playing eleven will no doubt be a boost for England.

Stokes said that it was frustrating to face a niggle before the tournament started.

“It was a frustrating little niggle to get before the tournament starts. But I have worked very hard to get back to where I am and making myself ready to be available for selection,” said Stokes as quoted by ESPNCricinfo to BBC.

Stokes said that he is currently in a “good place”.

“We have had a few days off since the last game and the first training session here in Mumbai. [I will] give it a good push but, yes, I think everything is pretty good. I am in a good place,” said Stokes.

Stokes said that England has a long way to go into the tournament and the team has to deal with its losses quickly since it will happen to everyone.

“We are only three games into a tournament. There is still a long way to go. It [the loss to Afghanistan] was disappointing at the moment, but at the end of the day, we have lost a game of cricket in a World Cup. Everyone is going to lose games and it’s one of those things we had to deal with quickly, understand that we did not perform well but move on, and understand we have a lot more cricket left to play,” said Stokes.

Most of the English players have been joined by their partners and children. The team had two full days off after arriving in Mumbai. Stokes said that this little off has given them a great chance to recharge their batteries.

“It has been a good chance to rest and get fired up and ready for the game against South Africa. The families have arrived now which has been really good for some people. We have been out here for three or four weeks, so it’s been a good chance to recharge our batteries,” said Stokes.

Stokes said that the team would like to register their second win at the iconic Wankhede Stadium, where they are excited to be.

“We would love to get our second win here. South Africa have been performing really well so far and are a good team. It is exciting as well being at the Wankhede, the first game there [of the World Cup]. It is generally a nice place to bat in particular. Hopefully, it can be one of those games for us where we go out and click,” said Stokes.

Hayden wants Cameron Green to open for Australia

Former Australian batter Matthew Hayden feels that Australia should make a shift in the top order and give batting all-rounder Cameron Green the flexibility to play as an opener in place of Marnus Labuschagne, who is now batting at number four.

The five-time champions have problems throughout their lineup, as numerous batters have struggled to create good innings after two efforts, and questions persist about their selection of three frontline quicks.

Australia’s scores of 199 and 177 against India and South Africa respectively, highlight the struggle they have had to put up runs on the board in the ongoing ICC World Cup.

Talking about whether pairing Steve Smith and Labuschagne together works, Hayden told ESPNcricinfo, “I don’t think it does. I don’t think they’ll change things either. To me, they have got a front anchor out and a back anchor out and the innings go nowhere because they are both well and truly stable.”

“It’s fine to have one stabilizer, I think it’s really important to have a mind like Steve Smith at the top of the order when you start to set totals or chase totals, you need that computer mind, but when you have two of them in a row I think it creates pressure through the top six so I’d make a change there,” he added.

Green was dropped after the first game against India due to his lack of form with the bat, but Hayden claimed the opening may free him up from the shackles, with Mitchell Marsh moving to No. 3 and Smith to No. 4.

“Give him a license, Cam Green at the top. To me he’s a kid who hasn’t necessarily found his tempo in any format of the game but what we saw here during the IPL is that Mumbai Indians just sent him out and said, kid, just smash it,” he said. “He’s got huge levers, got great scoring abilities. Not so good when it comes to playing spin through the middle but by that stage if he’s smashed Pakistan for 70 or 80 he’s done his job. Mitch [Marsh] won’t like to come down to three because he’s had great success in his ODI career opening but soon enough you are going to get [Travis] Head back in there so ultimately Mitch is going to bat three, so make the change, create the initiative, do something different rather than sit and wait,” Hayden said.

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