Virat Kohli played a crucial inning in the Indian win against Pakistan in their first game in the Champions Trophy on 4th June. He scored 81 off 68 deliveries to take India to a total of 319 in the allotted 48 overs. However, earlier in his innings he was struggling with his strike rate. He was on 29 when Rohit fell victim to a run-out and could only score 9 runs while Yuvraj on the other end reached his half century.
Talking about the match Virat made a remark “I felt like a club batter” about his experience playing alongside Yuvraj in his vintage form. Yuvraj marked his presence felt from the start dominating the Pakistan bowling attack and scoring 53 off 32.
“Yuvi took pressure off when I couldn’t get runs. The way he was hitting the ball, I felt like a club batter in front of him,” Kohli said at the post-match conference.
“Quite delighted with all batsmen chipping in with runs. Shikhar and Rohit – last time we won here, the opening partnership was crucial. Rohit took some time going, but he’s coming back from an injury, and international cricket is different to IPL.
“And Hardik, 18 off five balls, was outstanding. We went with four seamers purely because we’re playing Pakistan. They play spin really well, and most of them are right-handers. In pressure situations, to have mid-on, mid-off up and hit hard lengths, gives us an advantage. Against other sides, we might use two spinners, depending on their strengths.”
The partnership between Kohli and Yuvraj was what drove the Indian run rate over 6 which was at 5.2 when Sharma got out. They put on 93 for the third wicket with Yuvraj being the higher contributor. He was chosen the Man of the Match for his match-winning innings and said, “I thought we all batted really well. The openers gave us a good start, Virat finished well, and it gave me the opportunity to go and attack. You just have to go and back yourself and tell the opposition that you’re here to attack.
“I was lucky I was dropped, but I capitalised and I was hitting it well. I finished well. India-Pakistan is always a big game, and I think it has set us up really well. Hopefully, we’ll take this confidence into the next game against Sri Lanka.”
Pakistan’s coach Mickey Arthur was questioned about Riaz’s fitness and many pointed it as one of the major causes of their loss. He responded, “Wahab Riaz was fully fit. He went through a fitness test; he was declared fully fit, he performed poorly and I’ll take the blame. I selected him because I wanted him to perform a role. He didn’t execute that role, unfortunately. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.”
Sarfraz Ahmed trying to explain what went wrong for their side said that their bowling faltered in the death overs giving away 124 runs in the last eight. Their bowlers were not successful in keeping a check on the economy which led to a high final total.
After a 124-run victory over Pakistan, India now enjoys the top spot in the group B of the tournament. They will be facing the Sri Lankans in their next match on 8th June.