It will be a tussle between India's batting versus South Africa bowling: Kohli

  • AFP
  • Updated: Feb 21, 2015 09:30 IST

Indian vice-captain Virat Kohli predicts an "exciting" tussle between his team's batsmen and South Africa's bowlers during Sunday's World Cup blockbuster at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

"Both sides are balanced, so it all depends on how you play on the day," the leading Indian batsman said ahead of the key Pool B match that will almost certainly assure the winner a place in the quarter-finals.

Both teams won their opening games, defending champions India thrashing Pakistan by 76 runs in Adelaide last Sunday and South Africa beating Zimbabwe by 62 runs in Hamilton earlier the same day.

Kohli, deputising for skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni at Saturday's pre-match media conference, said the hard pitch with extra bounce at the MCG will be a challenge for the two teams.

"They have good fast bowlers and we have the batsmen," he said. "So it should be an exciting contest between their bowlers and our batsmen.

"The key will be to sustain the momentum for the whole innings. It is not easy to clear boundaries at a big ground like the MCG, so trying to step it up towards the end won't be easy.

"We need a calculated approach to batting."

The 26-year-old has prospered at the MCG, making 169 and 54 during the drawn Test against Australia in December. He followed that with a match-winning 107 in the

World Cup opener against Pakistan in Adelaide.

Kohli and the other Indian batsmen now face the prospect of facing a formidable attack that includes Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, backed by Kyle Abbott and Wayne Parnell.

Kohli said it was an advantage having played alongside the fearsome Steyn and prolific AB de Villers for the same Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise in the Indian Premier League.

"Dale is a good friend, I get the biggest hug from him when we meet," he said. "But when we get on the field, he will look to dominate me and I will try to dominate him.

"There is a good reason why he is one of the best fast bowlers in the game and why AB is a world-class batsmen. We will have plans for every player. But some players have the ability to play the opposite of what we have planned for them."

Kohli said he was excited at the prospect of playing in front of an estimated crowd of over 80,000 fans at the MCG, almost 80 percent of whom were expected to be Indian fans.

"I just love playing in a full stadium," he said. "It is very satisfying when one plays well and makes people happy. It is not always that you will succeed, but if you do, others will be delighted.

"It excites me to be playing here. A win here will give us immense self-belief that we can beat a good side. If we get over this hurdle it will be a huge morale-booster for the tougher games ahead.

"But I am not one to look too far ahead. It is better to take it one match at a time. We just have to play well as a unit. There is nothing to prove to anyone."

India have never beaten South Africa in the World Cup, losing all three times they met in 1992, 1999 and 2011. But Dhoni's men overcame the loss four years ago to lift the title.

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