In Yuvraj Singh’s homeground, it is on Delhi boy Virat Kohli that India’s fortunes hinge as they gear up for the must-win World Twenty20 clash against Australia on Sunday.
Before the tournament began, many expected India to be a dominant force in familiar conditions but in the end, a loss in the opening match and a comfortable win against Pakistan was followed by a one-run scramble to victory against Bangladesh.
On turning tracks, only Kohli has batted with any assurance. His brilliant 55 not out against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens was followed by 24 in the low-scoring affair against Bangladesh. As India prepare to take on Australia, a lot will be expected of Kohli, and nothing less than a win will keep India alive.
Both teams are equal on points after two victories apiece, but India have to win if they are to go through to the semifinals as Australia are ahead on net run rate.
The India Test skipper said the team can learn a lot from their 2011 ICC World Cup semi-final clash against Pakistan at Mohali.
“I was just 21-years-old and was overwhelmed. Seeing two PMs, and the energy around the clash, was incredible. But the one takeaway from that clash is that focus on the game and everything else will be taken care of. You can easily be distracted by the occasion, but it’s important to be aware of the importance of the situation but keep that aside and keep your mind on the task at hand,” Kohli said.
The PCA pitch was full of runs in the last two matches, and one will have to wait and see how the wicket behaves on Sunday. If New Zealand managed 180, Australia breached 190, both coming against Pakistan, in Mohali. While India have managed two wins, Kohli said the experience has been humbling and now his team has accepted that.
“It’s important one thinks on his feet during the match. In the Asia Cup, we had to focus on just three teams; in the World Cup we have the best players and teams here. You need to be prepared as the opposition will make you struggle. In the first match, we couldn’t adapt, but in the next two games we were up for the challenge and did well. In the end, it was more of a humbling experience,” he said.
Kohli said all his focus will be on winning the match for the team or contributing to the victory and that is what is expected from every player in the squad.
“It’s hard to be consistent in this game as a team on a regular basis. Sometimes you need character to get across the line. In our last win against Bangladesh, the spinners bowled well and then Hardik (Pandya) did well to get us the win. You need to be focused on (each of the ) 120 balls while batting and do a similar thing while bowling. That win was important for us and we need to be in focused and stay in the moment,” the 27-year-old added.