Kolkata: India may have just played their last ODI before the Champions Trophy, which is still five months away, but skipper Virat Kohli is not unduly concerned and said the more T20s the team plays the better it will get at death bowling in the 50-over format.
India missed out on a clean sweep when they suffered a narrow five-run defeat to England in the third One-day International at the Eden Gardens last night.
This was the last ODI, India were scheduled to play before the Champions Trophy begins in England in the first week of June.
“It’s not such a bad thing. The more T20s we play, we will get better at death bowling in the ODIs. That will be our advantage,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
He added, “As far as batting is concerned, obviously the one area we look to focus on is to maintain our batting techniques and use T20s and ODIs as an extension of our Test batting. That means not necessarily getting reckless and slog every ball. It is very important to understand how to score in competitive conditions. The focus will be on not wanting to overdo things.”
Referring to the conditions in England, he said, “It’s very important to understand how to score in those conditions, you need to have solid base and balance at the crease to be able to score runs in competitive conditions.
“I think the focus will be on not wanting to overdo things and at the same time finding a balance between good conventional cricket and at the same time knowing how to score runs with that.”
In a series in which the batsmen made merry, India’s openers failed to make any lasting impression, but the captain backed Shikhar Dhawan and Co.
“At times, you have to give them chances to return to form. You don’t get ready players for international cricket that often. We should back our openers give them confidence. It’s a matter of one or two innings, and you get your flow back in the international cricket.”
Recovering from a thigh injury, Rohit Sharma is one of the regular openers that India have, and Kohli said if all of them bat to full potential it would be ominous for the opposition.
“Earlier opening was never our problem, it’s our middle-order which is sorted now. It’s not that we have to go in search for openers, we already have got good openers. We will address the areas of concern, and will try to correct a few of them.”
Recalling the exploits of Rohit and Dhawan during their title-winning run in 2013, he said: “We have seen Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan as a revelation in the last edition of Champions Trophy.
“You never know, if we get stronger in that area. As a batting unit, we have just played to about 70-75 per cent of our potential. If we play to our full potential, God knows how many runs we would score. Yes, we need to strengthen those areas.”
England finally broke their Eden jinx where they have never won in 30 years, with Ben Stokes singing the redemption song after being smashed for four sixes in the last over of the World T20 final against the West Indies at the same venue.
“I really felt bad for him in the final. We all saw it. I feel he is someone who takes a lot of pride in his cricket and he’s very proud to play for England. I saw the disappointment and the sadness on his face when England lost that final.
“But he’s a guy with great character, he’s always fighting to win games for England. We all see that in Test cricket. Even today he was really motivated to win the game for them. You could tell from his body language.
“The way he bowled, the way he batted and the way he was running in the end as well, while he was batting. I mean every side is pleased to have cricketers like that. And nowadays everyone does play with that mindset. But I am sure it feels nice for him to have sort of reversed the tales here as far as this ground is concerned.”
It was another 300-plus affair as the series went into the record books with total runs of 2090 in aggregate, which bettered the 1892 scored in the Afro-Asia Cup in 2007.
“It’s hard for bowlers to execute their plans with dew. I would not like to say but the one-day game and T20 game is more batsmen dominated.”
The 2-1 result was special for Kohli who rated England as a batting-heavy side.
“They bat till 10th. This series win makes it all the more special that we are up against a side that probably has the best balance going around in ODI cricket.
“If you have people batting till 10, bowling all-rounders and good quick bowlers. We bowled well till the 45th and we expected them to hard in the last 5. I was pretty happy as a captain with what England scored by the end of 50 overs.
“With the bat, yes, we could have made partnerships bigger, especially mine and Yuvi. Maybe the game would have been different. The situations are very different in cricket than what you expect them to be. Two youngsters stepping up was more pleasing to see rather than two experienced guys taking the team through. Opportunity for them and they played really well.”
Kohli disagreed that England have outshone them in batting.
“We have scored more than them twice. Even today we were within closing distance off the target. If I sit down as a captain and expect teams to get out at 250 and 260s, I’m expecting the total opposite of the way the game is going nowadays.
“I think the teams are scoring 300 plus, you have to make up your mind of going out there and scoring more than that or score more than of what you think they are capable of chasing. The game is boiling down to how much impact the batsmen can have because the bowlers are finding it very difficult especially when you have dew around.”