Home Sports ‘Play like it’s Test cricket for some time’ – What Kohli told Rahul when India fell to 2 for 3

‘Play like it’s Test cricket for some time’ – What Kohli told Rahul when India fell to 2 for 3

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‘Play like it’s Test cricket for some time’ – What Kohli told Rahul when India fell to 2 for 3

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Twelve balls into India’s pursuit of 200, KL Rahul found himself at the crease. He was batting at No. 5, and he had just kept wicket through a muggy Chennai afternoon for almost 50 overs. It was all a “bit of a rush”, as he said three hours later, after having batted through the rest of the chase to get India over the line against Australia with six wickets to spare.
Asked at the post-match presentation – while he picked up the Player of the Match award – what the conversation was with his batting partner Virat Kohli was when he came out to bat in that precarious position, he offered a smile and said: “Quite honestly, not a lot of conversation. I was just trying to catch my breath as I just had a shower. I thought I would get a good half an hour – [or] an hour’s – break, put the feet up and just rest up. But I was out there in no time, so there was a bit of rush. I was just trying to get my breath back.”

On a more serious note, Kohli, he said, reckoned the pair would have to do some Test-match batting for a while to get India back on track on a trying Chepauk pitch, where India’s spinners had dictated terms before Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer – that is, three of India’s top four – bagged ducks to Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

“Virat said there’s big help in the wicket, and [we] just have to play proper shots and play like it’s Test cricket for some time and see where it goes,” Rahul said. “That was mostly the plan, and happy that we could do the job for the team.”

How tough exactly was it to bat on this pitch, then? Tricky, till the dew came in, Rahul said. “There was a bit of help for the fast bowlers with the new ball when we bowled. And later on the spinners came in and they had a lot help from the wicket.

“But I think towards the end – in the last 15-20 overs – the dew played a bit of a part for them; while they were bowling, they changed the ball as well. Once that happened, it did come on a little better.

“But it was still two-paced, and wasn’t a great wicket to bat on; nor was it too difficult. It wasn’t a flat wicket, nor was it too helpful for the bowlers. I think it was a good cricket wicket, and that’s what you get in the south of India. But a bit excited that we could get the win today.”

India captain Rohit Sharma, speaking at the post-match presentation, admitted to being nervous himself while India had their unprecedented meltdown to 2 for 3 – it was the first time in men’s ODI cricket that three of their top four were out for ducks, and no team had previously gone on to win an ODI after losing three wickets with as few runs on the board.

“You don’t want to start your innings like that when you are chasing that kind of a target,” Rohit said. “But you’ve got to give credit to the Aussies – they bowled pretty well. Some loose shots there as well [from India], but that happens. When you have that kind of a target, you want to get off the mark as quickly as possible; try and score as many as possible in the powerplay.

“But hats off to Virat and KL – how they stuck in the middle out there and created that match-winning partnership.”

This will be the first and last time India play at Chepauk at the World Cup though, and next up they move to Delhi, where South Africa and Sri Lanka combined to break the record for the most runs aggregated in a World Cup game just last night.

The difference in conditions will be stark, and that will be one of India’s big challenges as they travel to 10 different venues for their group games (they will be the only team to not play twice at one venue in the round-robin stage), Rohit said. “That is going to be our biggest challenge as a team moving forward, because we are going to play on different pitches and in different conditions as well. So you might have to change your combination a little bit as well depending on what sort of conditions we play in. But as a team we are prepared to do that. It is something we have been talking about in our group – whoever suits the conditions needs to come and do the job for us.”

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