Friday 24 May 2019 12:41 AM UTC
LONDON May 24: Virat Kohli, who will lead India for the first time in a 50-over ICC World Cup, didn’t hesitate to call hosts England the “strongest” side, adding that they seem “obsessed with getting to 500 before anyone else”. Currently, England hold the record of highest One-Day International (ODI) score — 481 for six, which they scored against Australia last year.
Watching the current form of England batsmen and playing conditions in England and Wales, the World Cup 2019 is expected to be a high-scoring one.
Recently, England outplayed Pakistan 4-0 in a high-scoring series. At the captains’ media interaction ahead of the mega event, Kohli was asked if the 500-run mark could be breached in this edition.
“I was just going to say it really depends on these guys. They seem to be obsessed with getting to 500 before anyone else,” said Kohli while pointing to his English counterpart Eoin Morgan, who sat next to him.
Kohli conceded that the tournament will see a run-fest but pressure of playing in a World Cup will make even 260-270 hard to chase.
“It is going to be a high scoring tournament but back home too I said 260-270 will also will be as tough to get in a World Cup as chasing 370-380. I don’t see many high scoring games in the latter stages of the tournament, initially some teams might get on a roll but later on you will see 250 defended as well. That is the kind of pressure World Cup brings.”
The Indian captain expects the teams to be more cautious as the tournament progresses.
“Not all the teams are going to be in a great position (in the latter half). The ones who have to make sure that they get the result are going to be under pressure to chase even a small total. The fact that you are going to be close to a knock out berth will get you under pressure in the latter stages and all teams recognise that.
“Then you will not see many teams going gung ho from ball one. Generally both teams would like to start in a balanced way and look to capitalise on the moments. So I see pressure being a massive factor in the World Cup.”
The same question was posed to Australian captain Aaron Finch, who was also part of the 2015 World Cup winning squad.
“If you see the last couple of years, trajectory of scores has been going up and up in England. We have been at the receiving end of the highest one. I don’t want to put a number one it. Hard to tell (what could be the highest-score in the tournament).
“On small grounds with good pitches, if the top order gets going, the teams are so explosive these days and if they keep going till the end it (the total) could be anything.”
Finch picked India and England as the teams to watch out though he said it would be a highly competitive tournament with all teams playing each other at least once. Kohli also agreed with Finch that England are going into the World Cup as the “strongest” side.
The marquee clash of the mega event will be on June 16 when India take on arch-rivals Pakistan at Old Trafford.
A question on that mouth-watering contest was always coming and when it came, Kohli and Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed were asked how they will approach the high-pressure game. And their reply was a stock one.
“Look India Pakistan is always a very very anticipated match but we keep saying again and again. If you ask the players it is very different from how the fans look at the game. Yes you feel the anticipation and excitement of the fans when you enter the stadium but as soon as you step on the field, it is very professional.
“For us it is just another game you need to win as a team. Yes it brings pressure because the atmosphere in the stadium is very different and as I said you only experience that till the time you start competing in the game. As soon as you get into it, it is a game of cricket for all of us,” said the India captain as Sarfraz nodded in agreement.
“My answer is the same. I don’t need to add,” said the Pakistan skipper.
While many expect a bagful of runs in the World Cup, bowlers are bound to come into play at some point, said New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.
“We have spoken about the batting but equally important is the bowling. I have no doubt that there will be venues who will be more suited to the bowlers. We will have to find a way to play well in all conditions,” said Williamson.
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