Skipper Virat Kohli said India were “extra motivated” and “had a point to prove” after his team notched up a convincing 36-run win over Australia in the World Cup, avenging their bitter ODI series loss at home earlier this year.
“We had a point to prove. We were more motivated to win today because of the fact that we lost the series in India, being 2-0 up, and there was no Mitchell Starc, either. So him (Starc) coming in makes their bowling line-up even stronger,” Kohli said.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better game in all three departments, set the tone the way we wanted to bat up-front,” he said at the post-match press conference.
India posted a massive 352 for 5, riding on a professional performance by the top-order led by Shikhar Dhawan (117). In reply, Australia were dismissed for 316.
With wins over South Africa and Australia, India are on a roll but Kohli said he doesn’t want to think too far ahead about the World Cup semi-finals though playing stronger opponents up front has put the team in a better position for the knockout stage.
“No, I think in my opinion it’s too early to decide that (semis). I think after about six games, we’ll be in a better position to know where we stand in the tournament, where we stand in the table, but we couldn’t have asked for a better start against two strong sides,” he said.
“The good thing is we are playing all strong sides up front, so as I mentioned in Mumbai before we left, if we do well in the first phase, we’ll be in a better position to reach the semi-finals,” the skipper said.
The best part about India’s bowling was the 131 dot balls that Australia were forced to play.
“Well, we sort of felt like they were a bit hesitant in going for the boundary option, so the communication was very simple: Bowl at good lengths but within the stumps and pitch it up, because as a batsman I know when you’re not looking for a boundary option, the last ball you want is a length ball on stumps because you have to play a good short to get a boundary,” Kohli explained a batsman’s predicament.
“I just felt like at that stage they didn’t want to lose wickets was the mentality that we felt, like they wanted to keep it so they could strike big in the end. But I think that was too big a total to play like that initially,” the skipper also pointed out where the opposition went wrong.
Having wicket-taking bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Yuzvendra Chahal does bog the batsmen down, exactly what happened on the day as the trio shared the eight wickets among themselves.
“In ODIs, when you have strike bowlers, you will have dot balls because the batsmen really give respect to a guy who can get you out. You just give them the ball in a situation and they know exactly what to do,” said the captain.
“I literally don’t have anything to plan with these guys because they do their skills so well. They are at the top of their game right now for sure.”
The middle-order played their role to perfection as 116 runs came in the last 10 overs.
When asked to compare the power-hitters from earlier eras, the skipper feels that this middle-order comprising MS Dhoni, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya and Kedar Jadhav is as good as any of the past line-ups.
“Yeah, I mean, look, KL didn’t even play five, six balls in this innings and he can strike the ball as you saw he can. Kedar didn’t play a ball, and you’re talking about Hardik, MS, Kedar, KL, serious hitting ability and serious talent with the bat.