Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
India’s stand-in captain Virat Kohli believes that batsman Rohit Sharma has the potential to be the country’s “X-factor” during the 2015 World Cup.
Sharma has been included in India’s squad for the fourth and fifth ODI against Sri Lanka after having recovered from a fractured finger and shoulder injury.
“It’s great to have Rohit back, because a player like him, if he gets going, he can be the X-factor in the World Cup,” Kohli said. “He can win games for you and get those big runs. We know how lethal he is at the end of the innings. His value to the team is massive.
“The good thing about Rohit is that he doesn’t really change himself or his game according to successes or failures. That’s one of his biggest strengths. Even after such an unfortunate injury in England – going out half way while he’s batting well, to get some rest and come back to get a hundred in the first game he plays, shows his mental toughness.
“He brings a lot of positivity to the team. He’s a good thinker on the game. In the past when I’ve been leading the side, I’ve spoken to him about things that could be done in different situations, and he’s always up for discussions about fields, or plans for particular batsman.”
Since opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan has been rested for the last two ODIs against Sri Lanka, it is highly likely that Sharma will open the batting with Ajinkya Rahane.
“Most probably Rohit will bat where he’s batted in the past for us,” Kohli said. “It’s all about giving him confidence as much as we can before going into the World Cup. These two games and the tri-series in Australia will really help him come back to his groove at the top of the order. We will be looking at giving him as many overs to bat as possible.”
Meanwhile, Kohli admitted that he was surprised at how well pace bowler Umesh Yadav has performed in the first three ODIs.
Yadav has taken eight wickets in the first three ODIs at a brilliant average of 16.37.
“Umesh is someone that I believed, if he gets more consistency in his bowling, he’d be right up there with the best bowlers in the world,” Kohli said. “He’s got the fitness, he’s got the strength, and he’s a naturally strong guy. He bowls at pace, swings the ball, has a rhythmic smooth action, and is a great fielder. He’s got everything – just that consistency bit was lacking in the beginning. Now he’s much smarter as a bowler. With the new ball his consistency has improved miles and I’ve been really impressed with him.
“The all out pace attack is something we will look forward to in the coming months. That’s an area of strength we want to build as an Indian team, which will be a change of character for us. In the past, we haven’t really had two bowlers who bowl 150 plus with the new ball (Varun Aaron and Yadav), and another guy who is 6ft 4in and can get the bounce is (Ishant Sharma).”