KOLKATA: India coach Rahul Dravid insisted that Virat Kohli is “really focused” on winning the World Cup rather than personal and professional achievements, as he prepares to put the home team’s unbeaten record on the line against South Africa at the top of the table.
Star batsman Kohli will turn 35 on Sunday when India, who have advanced to the semi-finals, take on the Proteas at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
Kohli almost equaled Sachin Tendulkar’s all-time record of 49 one-day international hundreds as he scored 88 against Sri Lanka in the presence of the ‘Little Master’ at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.
India defeat Sri Lanka by 302 runs to advance to World Cup semi-finals
But their innings paved the way for a crushing 302-run win; Kohli has now scored 442 runs, including a hundred, at an average of over 88 from seven tournament innings.
Dravid, who was once an outstanding India batsman himself, said Kohli’s attitude and performances, who had previously lifted the trophy on home soil in 2011, were indicative of his desire to win the World Cup for the second time.
“I think Virat has really relaxed and he is batting really well for us as you can see from his performances,” Dravid said in the pre-match press conference on Saturday.
“I didn’t notice anything different. He was always the same. Always professional, always hard-working, always excited.”
Dravid added: “I don’t think he really thinks too much about (ODI hundreds) 49 and 50 and he probably doesn’t think about his birthday and him turning another year older at all. I think he is really focused on winning the tournament and playing good cricket for us. “I think he does that really well.”
Also in Sri Lanka’s defeat, Shreyas Iyer hit form with 82 off just 56 balls, including six sixes, to take India’s total to 357-8.
“We wanted him to work harder,” Dravid said. “To have the courage and skill to put on that performance, knowing that he hadn’t scored any runs in the last two or three games, I think it says a lot about him as a person and his temperament.”
‘Under the radar’ Jadeja
India quicks Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami hit the headlines with their devastating display in which Sri Lanka fell behind by just 55 points; this was the lowest total completed by any Test side in the World Cup.
But Dravid also acknowledged the impact of Ravindra Jadeja, whose left-arm spinner is now the only true all-rounder in the India squad after Hardik Pandya was ruled out of the rest of the World Cup with an ankle injury on Saturday.
“He has performed outstandingly in this tournament,” said Jadeja’s Dravid, averaging 41 with the bat and just 23.33 with the ball.
“The control he gave us in the middle was sensational… Also with the bat it’s not easy for someone like him because he’s batting at No 7, not playing three or four games and then coming in and playing some pretty big innings every time.
Saying that Jadeja is also a great fielder, Dravid said: “He is a real all-round package… and maybe he has gone a little bit under the radar.”
South Africa’s place in the last four was secured with Pakistan’s win over New Zealand on Saturday and Sunday’s match could now be a dress rehearsal for the final in Ahmedabad on November 19.
But a cautious Dravid said: “What happens next, there are still two or three matches left.
“We need to earn the right for both teams to be in Ahmedabad, whether it is us or South Africa.”
news source (www.brecorder.com)