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Kohli credits Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah after sealing final spot
By Our Correspondent, 16/06/2017, New Delhi


India have very few boxes left to be ticked in the tournament. They managed to wriggle out of a tricky situation during the bowling thanks to Kedar Jadhav's off-spin working out and it left their skipper Virat Kohli a pretty happy man at the end of the semi-final against Bangladesh.

"Well, outstanding," said Kohli about the performances of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. "Especially the last two games they've been terrific initially and in the later stages, as well, their wicket-taking ability, which is something the opposition always knows, so they're always careful going hard against these two guys, and yeah, their length after the Sri Lanka game, the length and line has been impeccable, so consistent, bowling close to the batsmen, always there with an opportunity to get a wicket, as I mentioned. Even in conditions which are not offering too much, [they're] bowling such lines that we can produce wicket-taking opportunities.

"Big credit to both of them for getting us where we stand right now. A lot of credit goes to both of them, as well, for having bowled the way they have in the last two games."

After restricting Bangladesh to 264, India managed to cruise through in the chase thanks to the quick start provided by the openers, while Rohit Sharma (123*) and Kohli (96*) himself finishing it off with nearly ten overs to spare.

"Well, it's not been difficult at all. I'm really enjoying the way I'm batting. For me the number of runs do not matter at this stage. I'm really enjoying the process, and something which is, you know, giving me joy is that whatever I'm practising and how I prepared after the IPL is paying off in this tournament. So I'm pretty happy getting the team across the line, honestly. Doesn't matter if it's three wickets or two or even one. I want to apply myself in any situation possible. Last game was a bit more challenging in terms of chasing a low total and we lost one early wicket so I had to apply differently," said Kohli.

"But today, again, the way Rohit and Shikhar batted, it just gave me so much confidence heading into the changing room. These guys just went out and especially Shikhar, the way he took off was outstanding. Those two guys really dent the opposition mentally and you can come in and play your shots, and once you get going, the wicket was obviously really nice to bat on, as well. I don't want to take all the credit. It was a beautiful wicket to bat on, and the outfield was quick, so I think it was great conditions to bat today, and as batsmen you do want to capitalise."

On the same day that he scored the hundred, there was also the news of Rohit being rested for the series against West Indies that follows the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Kohli stressed that the opener needed that break.

"Yeah, Rohit has come back and really had a full IPL season, which has been hectic to reach the final, so he got less rest than anyone else. But he had a massive hip surgery, so muscles around that area are always vulnerable, and today also he felt a bit of stiffness in his right knee, and we decided the smart decision is to rest a guy who's playing -- there's no doubt about Rohit's ability and what he brings to the team.

"We need to protect him going further because later half of the year we have massive tours coming up, and his batting contribution will be a huge factor for us. So we want him to be careful because after a massive surgery you do need to be careful. If you push yourself a little too hard then it snaps again you're out for seven, eight months. I think it's a conscious decision by everyone to give him a break. He's making the most of the form he's in right now, and I'm sure he also knows and understands the whole situation," he said.

Pakistan's 'magnificent' turnaround impresses Kohli

With the final against their arch-rivals Pakistan looming, Kohli also mentioned that he has been impressed by Pakistan's turnaround after their loss to India earlier in the tournament. "Yeah, very impressed. The turnaround has been magnificent. Obviously if you reach the finals you have to play some good cricket, and credit to them, they've turned around things for themselves really well. They've beaten sides that looked really strong against them, but the belief just showed on the field the way they played together as a team, and you know, regardless of who you play in the finals, it's always going to be challenging because once you start thinking that it's a big game, then your mindset changes.

"There are no statements in this game, honestly. On the day you arrive, you're not feeling well mentally, [it] doesn't matter whether you've [scored] 100 or whether you had a convincing victory, and if you score zero, you've lost and you feel great on the day, you can win the game of cricket. That's how this game goes, and that's the beauty of this game. No one is a winner beforehand, and you can't predict anything in this game.

"We've seen some really surprising results, and it's been amazing for the fans to watch and for the players to be a part of, as well. We just want to enjoy the finals and we deserve to be there. We played some really good cricket. We're not going to take anything for granted for sure. It doesn't matter whether we win by nine wickets, we win by one wicket. We're just going to go there and try to do the same things again and again. [We've to keep] bowling as a team, and hopefully the results will come," he said while signing off.

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