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ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Virat Kohli says India not invincible, need to push harder against South Africa

India's unexpected loss to Sri Lanka has turned the remaining Group B matches into virtual quarterfinals: India vs top-ranked South Africa on Sunday, followed by Sri Lanka vs Pakistan on Monday.
Subhasish Dutta London June 09, 2017 11:46 IST
Subhasish Dutta

Captain Virat Kohli said India will now have to push harder in their next ICC Champions Trophy 2017 match against South Africa after the defending champions slummped to an unexpected seven-wicket defeat against Sri Lanka on Thursday. The 28-year-old said his team was not invincible while lauding the Sri Lankans, led by Angelo Mathews, for the composure they had displayed in the record-run chase at the Oval.

Sri Lanka were coming off a 96-run loss to South Africa, while India appeared unstoppable after demolishing Pakistan and easily winning its warm-up matches against Bangladesh and New Zealand. On Thursday, India made an imposing 321/6 riding on opener Shikhar Dhawan's 125, the fourth highest total in Champions Trophy history, but Sri Lanka, without two of their best batsmen, trumped that with 322/3 with eight balls to spare.

"I personally thought that we had enough on the board at the halfway stage. And I think our bowlers also bowled decently well. If the Lankan batsmen come out and play like that and everyone plays well, you have to give credit to the opposition as well. We are not invincible. We are playing against other sides who are also champion sides (in their own rights)," Kohli said at the post-match media conference.

"If a side comes out there and plays cricket with that kind of mindset and executes their shots so well, then you have to take your hat off sometimes and say 'very well played'."

India's defeat turned the remaining Group B matches into virtual quarterfinals: India vs top-ranked South Africa on Sunday back at The Oval, followed by Sri Lanka vs Pakistan on Monday in Cardiff. India will now have to beat South Africa to qualify for the semis.

"Yes, it has become very exciting. Virtually every game is a quarter-final now. In our group especially, all teams are on two points, and you have to win your next game to go through, which is, I think, an exciting position to be in for all teams. And for everyone involved in the tournament and the fans as well, I think, it's a great scenario where you literally have two quarter-finals now which is going to be even more competitive cricket. So we are pretty clear about the whole situation, and, it certainly has opened up the whole table for sure," Kohli said.

The Indian skipper said his team need to push harder against South Africa, who have the likes of world No.1 ODI batsman AB de Villiers and the No.1 ODI bowler Kagiso Rabada in their ranks.

"From the batting point of view, as I said, I thought we paced it well. I thought we had enough on the board. In hindsight, when you look back, maybe you think of phases that we could have accelerated, but I don't see that as a major issue. May be, we will have to push harder now in the next few games to give us a 20-run cushion after a result like this. This is because we are playing on the same ground (Oval) as well (in the next match)," he said. 

"Sometimes you literally can't do anything in the game. You try to find ways to get people out, but it doesn't happen. If you have a couple of guys with off days in between, you can't go in with eight bowling options. You literally have five or six with a part-timer. In any case, you play two spinners, or you play four seamers," Kohli said.

Kohli said Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja's lack of execution also didn't help his team's cause. Both Pandya and Jadeja, often considered India's trump cards, were out of sorts against Sri Lanka and proved expensive. 

"If Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja aren't able to execute their lines, it does become difficult. Me and Kedar Jadhav chipped in with our overs and we pulled back the game at that stage. But then, again, everyone came out and played positive cricket from their team," Kohli said. 

The captain insisted on moving forward after the demoralising defeat.

"It is like a batting collapse. When you collapse as a batting unit, you don't sit down and think of your life is over. You just move on and say it's a bad day. Forget about it. That's what. In a Test match, you have a lot to think about because the game goes on for five days. 

"But I think in shorter format, you have to forget it and move on. As for people's perception -- we can't sit here and think of what people perceive us to be or what people had expected of us as a team," he said.