Image courtesy of: Zimbio
India captain Virat Kohli heaped praise on all-rounder Yuvraj Singh for his blistering knock of 53 off 32 balls in their Champions Trophy opener against Pakistan at Edgbaston on Sunday.
India were finding it tough to boost their run-rate towards the back-end of their innings, but all that changed when Yuvraj came to the crease.
The 35-year-old thumped eight boundaries and a six as India went on to post 319/3 off 48 overs and win the match by 124 runs via the Duckworth-Lewis method.
Kohli admitted that once Yuvraj, who was named Man of the Match, began going after the Pakistan bowlers, the atmosphere and momentum of the match completely shifted in India’s favour.
“The way Yuvi batted, it was the game-changing innings, to be honest,” Kohli said about Yuvraj, who was playing his first ODI in England since 2007. “That gave all of us the confidence to start striking the ball well.
“The way he batted was the way only he can strike the ball. Hitting low full-tosses for fours and sixes, and even digging out yorkers for fours, was outstanding.
“When Yuvi came in, we didn’t go back out again. So he started striking from ball one and as I said that took pressure off me, and maybe I should have given him strike.
“That really deflated the opposition and that gave me a bit of time to settle in from the other end. I felt like a club batsman while playing alongside Yuvi, the way he was hitting the ball. He took all the pressure off me and played the way only he can. When he got out, I took over. But I think his innings was a difference in the game.”
Kohli also made a major contribution with the bat as he smashed an unbeaten 81 off 68 deliveries, which included six boundaries and three sixes.
However, the Indian skipper conceded that he didn’t really feel settled until he brought up his half-century.
“I think till 40 I was easing into the game, taking my ones and twos like I always do,” Kohli said. “I could not go for the big ones because it was tricky. We went off about four times. And we came back in, and so as a player who likes to play the long innings, till the end and usually plays like that for the team, it becomes very difficult to find momentum every time you come back and all you gotta do is play yourself in again.”
When Yuvraj was dismissed when 10 balls to go in the innings, Kohli knew that he and Hardik Pandya had to stay until the end.
The duo hammered 34 runs off the last 10 deliveries to carry India to a formidable total and give them the psychological advantage over Pakistan as well.
“I decided to stay still and just back the strokes that I have and a few connected, and that’s what happens in this sport,” Kohli said. “Momentum comes your way, it goes away, but you’ve got to stay patient. And when it comes back, you’ve got to capitalise on it. So I believe in myself, I can get 30 of 10 balls as well in the end. And it was just showing a bit more composure.”
Having beaten Pakistan comprehensively, India will look to maintain their momentum when they go up against Sri Lanka and South Africa on Wednesday and Sunday respectively.