Virat Kohli talks up India’s character after hard-fought win

Virat Kohli, India’s captain, said India’s narrow win over Afghanistan in their World Cup 2019 match didn’t go to plan despite the side getting its victory. India had to fight throughout the game, having scored a sub-par 224 in their 50 overs, and needed to rely on their bowlers to restrict their Asian opponents. Jasprit Bumrah’s fine display and Mohammed Shami’s last over hat-trick delivered India their fourth win of the tournament – one that meant a lot to Kohli and his side.“This game was way more important to be honest as I said it didn’t go as plan. But when things don’t go your way, you need to show some character and bounce back and fight till the last ball and that shows the character of the team. We take a lot of heart from this win and take the confidence going forward,” said Kohli.
With 32 needed off the last four overs, Afghanistan had a very good chance of upsetting the apple-cart and consigning India to their first defeat of the tournament. However, Bumrah’s two fine overs, which saw the pacer hit the yorker length consistently, and Shami’s hat-trick when 12 were needed off the last five balls took India over the line. Speaking about the death, Kohli revealed that Bumrah was always going to be India’s trump card in such situations. Bumrah was also key to India pulling the game back mid way through the innings when he came in to remove two set players in Rahmat Shah and Hashmatullah Shahidi when Afghanistan were decently placed.“It’s simple. We wanted to use him (Bumrah) smartly when the conditions allow. He gets a longer spell and because he can pick wickets in the spell he can get you quick wickets. He is the bowler who can do the damage at any stage of the innings and the opposition knows that as well. The communication was to finish him off at 49th over so that Shami has enough runs to defend in the last over and yeah the plan worked really well today. Keeping Chahal back also worked.”Kohli also was happy with Shami’s performance. The right-armer was brought into the squad to replace the injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and hit the ground running, finishing with 4 for 40 in 9.5 overs.“All in all, the bowling performance was outstanding. Everyone’s waiting for an opportunity and I think Shami was really good today, especially his first spell, he was making the ball do more than anyone else today. Vijay Shankar has come in and he showed intent and he is fielding really well. It’s an honour for everyone to represent their country in the World Cup.”“We have been playing some good cricket and you expect yourself to win the toss and put big runs on the board and then you see the pitch being slow with three quality spinners in the opposition, I felt 270 should have been ideal and thought 250 would have been par. A team like Afghanistan who has a lot of talent doesn’t let you play the way you want to play. Everyone had collective belief that we can win this one. They really put pressure on us in the middle overs and as I said our shot selection could have been a lot better.