T20 World Cup: Kohli banks on 'priceless' 
Bhuvi and fearless Ashwin

Virat Kohli will hope to win his first ICC trophy as captain at the Twenty20 World Cup which will be his last tournament as India’s T20 skipper. (AFP)
Virat Kohli will hope to win his first ICC trophy as captain at the Twenty20 World Cup which will be his last tournament as India’s T20 skipper. (AFP)

Dubai - Bhuvi has built his reputation around his ability to swing the ball, but Kohli said the 31-year-old had other tricks up his sleeve



By Reuters/AFP

Published: Sun 17 Oct 2021, 12:00 AM

India captain Virat Kohli believes swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar will prove quite a handful with the new ball in the Twenty20 World Cup beginning on Sunday, and said off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin’s fearless bowling will boost their title hopes.

Going by the just-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) in the United Arab Emirates, swing bowlers could struggle to get any movement on the low and slow pitches in the UAE.

Kumar has built his reputation around his ability to swing the ball, but Kohli said the 31-year-old had other tricks up his sleeve.

“His economy rate still continues to be top notch, something that he’s always been known for, and his experience comes to the fore under pressure,” Kohli said at a pre-tournament media session on Saturday.

“(It’s) his understanding of hitting the areas according to the dimensions of field, and what balls to bowl and at what line.”

“I’m sure with the new ball he’ll definitely get some kind of assistance, and whatever little is there on offer, Bhuvi knows how to make the maximum use out of that. His experience is going to be priceless.”

Ashwin is also back in the Twenty20 fold after a two-year gap and Kohli said it was a just reward for the bowler, who had reinvented himself in the game’s shortest format.

“One thing that Ashwin has really improved on is bowling with a lot of courage in white ball cricket,” Kohli said.

“If you see the IPL in the last couple of years, he’s bowled the difficult overs, he’s bowled against the top players in the IPL, the likes of Polly (Kieron Pollard) and other power-hitters...”

Kohli also hailed MS Dhoni as an “inspiration” who had a “huge impact” on his cricketing journey.

Dhoni, who on Friday led Chennai Super Kings to their fourth IPL crown, captained India to the T20 world title in 2007.

But a World Cup win still awaits Kohli who will step down as the national T20 skipper after the 2021 tournament which gets underway on Sunday.

The star batsman, who took over the leadership role across all formats from Dhoni in 2017, said the former captain’s presence in the dressing room as team mentor will inspire an already confident unit.

“He has always been a mentor for all of us when we were starting our careers through till the time we played with the team and now has an opportunity to continue to do that same work again,” Kohli said.

“Younger guys who are playing their first major tournaments at early stages of their careers will benefit from his practical inputs, the intricate details of where the game is going and how we can improve.

“So we are delighted to have him back in this environment and his presence will certainly boost the morale of the team further and give us a lot more confidence than we already have as a team.”

The 32-year-old Kohli, who recently stepped down as captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore without an IPL title, said Dhoni lifting the T20 trophy in Johannesburg at the inaugural event in 2007 had a “huge impact” on his cricketing journey.

“Huge impact. I think no one really knew about the T20 tournament back in the day and then after the win the emergence of the IPL changed the game completely,” said Kohli.

“But we fondly remember watching this young Indian team achieve things at the world stage. We understood the impact. It was something special and inspirational.

“It gave me extra motivation and belief that I could also go out there and perform at the highest level at a young age.”


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