Champions Trophy: Ahead of final clash, Kohli praises Pakistan’s ‘magnificent turnabout’

Birmingham [UK]: After trouncing Bangladesh with a resounding nine-wicket win to enter the finals of the Champions Trophy, Indian skipper Virat Kohli appeared visibly satisfied saying his team was playing ‘smart’ cricket, however, he also praised Pakistan for their ‘magnificent turnabout’ in the series and assured that India won’t take things for granted in the final clash.

“Very impressed with Pakistan. Their turnabout has been magnificent. Obviously to reach the finals you have to play some good cricket. And credit to them, they have turned things around for themselves really well, and they have beaten sides that have been very strong. Their belief showed on the field,” Kohli told the media here in the post-match press briefing.

Displaying his composed mindset ahead of the mouthwatering clash with Pakistan on Sunday, the skipper stated that regardless of whom one is going to play in the finals, it is always going to be challenging.

“Once you start thinking it’s a big game, your mindset changes,” he added in a levelheaded note.

Talking about the team’s plans for the final, Kohli said that the squad will try and continue to repeat the similar form of cricket they have been playing so far.

“Knowing the strengths and weaknesses they (Pakistan) have, obviously we will have to plan a bit, but I don’t think there is need to change much as a team. But you can’t predict anything in this game. We have seen some very surprising results. We deserve to be in the finals as we have played some really good cricket. We are not going to take anything granted for sure” he said.

Pakistan succumbed to a thumping defeat at the hands of the defending champions India in their opening game, but then proceeded to beat number one-ranked side South Africa and Sri Lanka in the group stages before their eight-wicket victory over England to reach Sunday’s final at The Oval.

After restricting Bangladesh to 264, the defending champions chased down the target riding on the brilliant innings of Rohit Sharma (123 not out off 129 balls) and skipper Virat Kohli (96 not out off 78 balls) with 59 balls to spare at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground on Thursday.

After opener Shikhar Dhawan got out at his individual score of 46, Sharma and Kohli shared an unbeaten 187-run partnership to help India cross the line, that too with ease.

The duo was just immaculate with their timing and shot selection during the course of the partnership as they smashed the Bangladeshi bowlers to all the parts of the ground and hampered their confidence so and so that they could not never get the edge in the match.

During the course of the innings, Kohli became the fastest batsmen to score 8,000 runs in ODIs.

Dhawan also surpassed former skipper Sourav Ganguly to become the highest scorer in the Champions Trophy event.

Earlier put in to bat, the Mashrafe Mortaza-led side put in a below par score.

Opener Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61) scored blistering half-centuries to help their side end up with 264-7 in the quota of 50 overs.

At one stage though, Bangladesh did look to cross the 300 mark with Tamim and Mushfiqur sharing a very good partnership. However, they lost their way with part-timer Kedar Jadhav taking wickets of both the batsmen and put the brakes on the Bangladeshi scoring.

Sharma was adjudged the Man of the Match for his brilliant knock.

With the win, the Men in Blue have entered their fourth Champions Trophy final (twice in 2002, 2013 and 2017).

They will now face Pakistan in the summit clash at The Oval on Sunday.

One can expect a cracker of a game on Sunday with the two arch-rivals facing each other for the second time in the tournament.

Going into the match, India would be high on confidence having comprehensively defeated their Asian neighbour by 124 runs in the group stage. However, it would not be an easy one for the Men in Blue to defend their title as they would face a charged-up and equally confident Pakistan, who surprised everyone by beating favourites England in the first semi-final at Cardiff on Wednesday. (ANI)