Be ruthless and finish games off, says Kohli
On the eve of the crucial ICC Champions Trophy match against Sri Lanka at The Oval on Thursday, India skipper Virat Kohli asked his side to be "ruthless" and improve on the fielding, which lacked the sting during the opening tie against Pakistan.
Defending champions India got off to a rollicking start, thrashing arch-rivals Pakistan by 124 runs at Edgbaston on Sunday, but had a lot to answer in the fielding department, which included a few dropped chances.
The 28-year-old also cautioned his team against any complacency when they take the field against the islanders who, despite being a young side, boast of a couple of match-winners in Lasith Malinga and Niroshan Dickwella, among others.
"In ICC tournaments, the Sri Lankans have done really well. If you see their record over the years, they have always been a side who have reached the semi-finals or the finals. They have got talented players in the team in their team. They are a young team as well but they have the sort of players who can deliver match-winning performances on their day," Kohli said in the pre-match press conference here.
"Be ruthless and finish games off because the teams which bat deep can still have a 60-70 run partnership towards the end. In a tournament like this, we need to plug those holes and we have
identified that and going to work hard on those areas. Complimenting young all-rounder Hardik Pandya as a "real asset" to the side, Kohli said he can go down as one of the most accomplished Indian cricketers. Hardik is a real asset to Indian cricket, it's very hard to find someone who can almost touch 140 kms/hr and who strikes the ball as hard. He can also bat through the innings which we saw in the practice matches. It's very hard to find people with that kind of ability," he said.
"Once you have a player like him, you need to make sure he is always motivated, committed to give his 100 percent for the team and that comes naturally to him.
"He can go down as one of the most accomplished Indian cricketers. The kind of balance he brings into the team is priceless and that was on display the other day," he added. Commenting on the composition of the side, Kohli said: "We still havent spoken about the combination. We are going to look at how their batsmen react to different bowlers and then decide on the combination."
"The batsmen get a lot of confidence when they have bowlers who can deliver with the wickets. I think we are in a great position to have such good bowlers. It feels great when to have bowlers who can intimidate the opposition batsmen."
On leaving the leading duo of off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin and pacer Mohammed Shami out of the playing XI, Kohli said: "Ashwin is a high class bowler and is very professional.
He understood the dynamic of the side that we picked in the last game and he was absolutely fine with it. He always puts the team first."