Providence [Guyana]: India skipper Virat Kohli praised Rishabh Pant's batting in the third T20I against West Indies, saying he is looking forward to seeing more performances from the wicket-keeper batsman in the coming matches.
Pant's unbeaten 65 off 42 helped India to white-wash the Caribbean side in the three-match series. When the Men in Blue needed just three runs in the last over, the left-hander hit a winning six to take his side over the line with a seven-wicket victory on Tuesday night (local time). The Indian skipper said Pant applied himself in the third game and played the big shots that made the difference.
"For the first two games, he was really disappointed as he didn't get any runs. He was playing well and hitting the ball well but that is how T20 cricket goes. Sometimes you don't have the rub of the green but today he made sure that he applied himself and backed his skills, hit the big shots when required," Kohli said at the post-match press conference.
Kohli further said when one finishes the game and come out unbeaten it boosts one's confidence. He added that Pant has got tremendous talent and he just needs to be in his zone to play like this more often. "He played with the tempo of the innings, the tempo of what was required. Hitting the winning runs always gives you more confidence as a player, when you finish the game and come out not out batting in the end. I am really looking forward to seeing more performances from him like this. He has got the tremendous talent we all know. It is all about getting into his zone and doing this more often for the team," he added.
Kohli also heaped praises on Chahar brothers - Rahul and Deepak for their brilliance with the ball. The Indian skipper said Rahul, who was playing his first game, was outstanding with the new ball. He also said the three wickets taken by Deepak restricted West Indies to a moderate target. "We wanted to try a couple of guys. We gave both the Chahar brothers a go in this game. It was Rahul's first game and Deepak's come back. Playing for the first time, I think he (Rahul) was outstanding with the new ball. Pitch didn't have much, there was a bit cloud cover but kind of swing he (Deepak) got early and got those three wickets really set West Indies back and they could not get to a big total," he said.
Kohli also lauded Bhuvneshwar Kumar and said he is a skillful bowler. He further said Deepak's performance impressed him a lot. "I think it was his execution that pushed them back. Bhuvi is always been professional, a very skillful bowler. But I was definitely impressed with Deepak and how he bowled even with Rahul how he came back in the third over and got a wicket. I think it was a really good day for us as a fielding team, as a bowling unit and Deepak started it all for us," he added.
When asked about his own innings, Kohli stressed he does not play for his own performance and added he just wants to do his job for the team. "I don't think I need to prove myself with the bat or anything like that. I just want to do my job for the team. I don't play for my own performance. It is just about getting the team across the line whether I score 20, 30, 40, 50, or whatever. I have been playing like that for 11 years so nothing new for me and no pressure at all," he said.
India lost the recent 50-over World Cup in the semi-final match against New Zealand. With the next edition scheduled to be held in 2023, Kohli said the tournament is too far right now to think about. He said that the team's priority is to be consistent. He also opined that one starts planning about the World Cup 12 months before and not when it is four years away.
"It's too far to think about 2023 right now. For us, the priority always has been to be one of the most consistent sides in the world. I think in the last 3-4 years we have been able to achieve that. We are the number two side in the world and there is a good reason for that. We have been going to number one as well sometime," he said.
"You really start planning for the World Cup and looking forward to it 12 months to go and not four years away. The priority is to keep Indian cricket at the top. Play consistent cricket, go out and win games and find ways to win games for your team. And that's the reason we are one of the top teams in the world," he added. India will next take on the West Indies in three ODIs, starting August 8 at Providence stadium.