Thu, Jun 15, 2017 - Page 15 News List

Kohli vows no let up in semi-final

AFP, BIRMINGHAM, England

India captain Virat Kohli plays a shot against South Africa in their ICC Champions Trophy Group B match at The Oval in London on Sunday.

Photo: AFP

India captain Virat Kohli has promised there will be no let up from the title-holders when they face Bangladesh in the semi-finals of the ICC Champions Trophy at Edgbaston in Birmingham, England, today.

After a surprise group defeat by Sri Lanka in a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international sides, India responded to their win-or-go-home clash against South Africa with a commanding eight-wicket victory over the top-ranked Proteas at The Oval in London on Sunday.

India’s bowlers put the brakes on South Africa’s innings, while a trio of run-outs said much about the Proteas’ frailty and the improved fielding standards of Kohli’s men.

Needing a mere 192 for victory, Kohli was there at the finish with 76 not out as India won with 12 overs to spare.

It was an innings that helped take the India skipper back to No. 1 in the ICC one-day international batting rankings.

Now India return to Edgbaston where they launched their title defense with a 124-run thrashing of archrivals Pakistan.

“We played in Birmingham before. We like that pitch. It suits our game,” Kohli said after the win over South Africa. “There’s no looking back. There’s always room for improvement. We can’t rest on your laurels.”

With Pakistan facing tournament hosts England yesterday in the first semi-final in Cardiff, three of the four teams left in the tournament are all from the subcontinent.

Kohli acknowledged the amount of one-day cricket played in the region was a factor, but he has also been impressed with the way so many of the Asian nations have adapted to English conditions.

“Maybe because of how much limited-overs cricket we play, I think the players are getting more experienced in difficult situations,” he said. “Maybe some of the teams have really surprised the opposition with the way they have batted and bowled in certain situations.”

There was certainly plenty of good work with the ball carried out by Bangladesh’s bowlers as they held New Zealand to a modest 265-8 in Cardiff last time out.

However, the Tigers were still looking at an embarrassing defeat when they slumped to 33-4 in reply, but Shakib Al Hasan (114) and Mahmudullah (102 not out) responded to the pressure of a dire position in a must-win game with a brilliant new Bangladesh record partnership of 224 that turned the match upside down and eventually saw New Zealand eliminated.

Bangladesh’s place in the last four was then confirmed when England beat Australia at Edgbaston on Saturday last week.

India have won 26 of their 32 one-day internationals against Bangladesh, suffering just five defeats with one no result, but Bangladesh captain Mashrafe Mortaza believes wins such as the one over New Zealand will bolster his side’s already growing self-belief.

“In the last three years we keep improving a lot,” Mortaza said. “This sort of performance really help us to move forward, especially with the 2019 World Cup [in England and Wales] coming up.”

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