India v Australia, World T20 2016, Group 2, Mohali March 26, 2016

Experienced India should ride the flow - Kohli

26

India came to Mohali in November under threat of having a dud home season, having lost the T20I series and ODI series to South Africa. In Mohali, they found home comforts that took them to the No. 1 Test ranking, and gave this team in transition the reassurance that they are good enough. They come back to Mohali unsure again.

This has been a World T20 where India have been cagey perhaps because of - or despite - their favoured conditions. They have stayed alive, which is definitely credit to them, against some really good bowling in two of their three matches, but they haven't been able to play with the freedom they are known for.

This is not too dissimilar to what happened in the World Cup in 2011, where they started as the favourites, slipped up against South Africa, got away with a tie against England, but turned it on when it really mattered. They did just enough, but they won the World Cup. They have been doing just enough here too, and they can still win this World T20. In 2011, just like now, India's match against Australia started a string of three must-win matches

Virat Kohli recognises that India have been made to work hard, and cherishes the fight shown by his team to stay alive. "It is very difficult to be very consistent as a team in this format," he said. "I think you need to come to terms with that. Sometimes you need character from a few people to get you over the line and that's exactly what happened in the last game. Spinners bowled beautifully, then Hardik [Pandya] holding his nerve in the end was brilliant for us. All the things we needed to do in the end, we did, pulling the game back. That's a big positive for us."

India also recognise a global tournament would tax them more than the Asia Cup and the earlier T20 matches since the start of 2016. "The World Cup is a very big tournament," Kohli said. "Every team that plays, its skill levels are different from the other teams. In the Asia Cup, you need to focus only on three or four teams. In the World Cup, there are so many teams against whom you can play at any time, against whom you haven't played the entire year. I think that is a challenge, how you adapt on the spot. Adaptability is very important.

If we had relied only on our reputation and our confidence, we may not have been able to win those two games [against Pakistan and Bangladesh]. We have looked at it as a humbling experience
India batsman Virat Kohli

"What we did in the first game, our adaptability was not to the standards we have set, but in the last two games we have adapted very well. We could have been bowled out for 125 against Bangladesh, but we fought and put up a fighting total," Kohli added. "Obviously teams will test you, this is international cricket. It is not the kind of cricket where, because you have the reputation and the players, you are guaranteed of success. Anyone can upset anyone else and we have respected that in the last two games, and that's why we were able to pull those games back.

"If we had relied only on our reputation and our confidence, we may not have been able to win those two games. We have looked at it as a humbling experience and the endeavour is to do the same things that we have been doing throughout the season, but you can't execute [your plans] all the time. At that stage, you have to use your experience and accept the game as it is flowing and adjust accordingly, which as a team we try to do each single time."

There will be home comforts, though. The pitch might not be a raging turner, but it would be slow considering the square in Mohali has been used quite a bit over the last two weeks. Additionally, Sunday is the only the second double-header at the same venue during the Super 10s. The men will play on the same surface the Indian and West Indian women will get for their evening game in Mohali.

Australia are not the most comfortable on used and slow pitches. They are also the team whom India whitewashed in a three-match T20I series not long ago. "If you look at how we have played this season, that [series] sort of was the catalyst for our consistent performances in this Twenty20 season so far," Kohli said. "So obviously we can focus on the positive things that we did there against Australia, but we cannot take anything for granted. It's a virtual quarter-final for us. We all know that, and it's very important to stay in the moment, stay focussed on what we have to do. Why we were able to beat them in Australia is very important to remember. It's not so much, 'We have beaten them, so we can go out and do it again.' It's how we did it that we need to focus on."

Memories have been refreshed, questions about sledging and respect have been answered, final mistakes have been made. As they did in 2011, India need to find ways to win three matches; and they have maintained they don't always need to win pretty. "If you hit a six 60 metres or 90 metres, you still get a six," Kohli said.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   Mg Gm on March 27, 2016, 13:28 GMT

    India as no big hitters. Aus has all big hitters.

  • Arrow011 on March 27, 2016, 9:15 GMT

    It is time to remove Shikhar from playing 11. Rohit & Ashwin can open. Bring Negi in Ashwin's regular batting slot. Ashwin is not a good runner but can surely play better than run a ball when given an opportunity.

  • Naresh28 on March 27, 2016, 6:26 GMT

    Indian team has been under performing by at least 50% and needs to lift their game in all departments. Lucky to be there. Oz, Eng, and NZ deserve to be there at this stage. And WI are lifted by there U19 win lately.

  • Hiten on March 27, 2016, 3:22 GMT

    We need dhoni to bat at four and bhajji in place of pandya

  • anand_ on March 27, 2016, 3:16 GMT

    Completely agree with @cooljack if India lose two wickets quickly, then its better to send Ashwin instead of Yuvi or a Raina as he has better technique then both of them. Yes he is limited when it comes to his hitting abilities but he can certainly score at run a ball. Dhoni should use him just the way he used Badrinath for CSK.

  • crkt4evr on March 27, 2016, 2:04 GMT

    india have to go in with 3 spinners i.e include harbhajan but since he has been on bench for so long it could go wrong as well

  •   Ashim Sinha on March 27, 2016, 2:03 GMT

    Virat we all know where the problem lies. We have a very weak opening pair who are underperforming. Raina too. It baffles me that Rahane continue to sit on the benches. What is with him and Dhoni. Every team is making changes that are needed barring Dhoni. Australia is not necessarily a great team. They are very vulnerable and we should be able to beat them tonite-provided Dhoni selects the best team. Good luck for tonite and maybe you alone can see us through.

  • JKJK1234 on March 27, 2016, 0:29 GMT

    Must do for India......Raina & Yuvraj should be out of team India. Negi & Rahanae should be included. Must match game for Yojraj & learn few lessons to be learned. One more change. Hardik & Dhawan should open the batting for India. Hope things go according to this plan. God bless team India & Aussies.

  • TheBigBoodha on March 26, 2016, 23:30 GMT

    I hope they keep repeating the propaganda about the 3-0 win vs Australia. This should have parentheses around it, as India played their best team for the three games while Australia used it as an experiment and used 19 players, contantly shifting roles within the team. It was this bogus series that allowed India to climb to the top of the highly malleable T20 table, and the series that seems to have made the Indian media and public think their team is way better than what it is. I am yet to see any article or writer from India put that series in its true context - that it says little or nothing about the relative merits of the two teams that will meet today.

  • cooljack_143 on March 26, 2016, 22:10 GMT

    Love the way Kohli is positive about winning vs Aus. Frankly speaking Aus will choke against spin. All they need to do is start & end with spin . And take Zampa to bonkers . Ind vs WI on cards in semis.

  • No featured comments at the moment.