T20 World Cup: Kohli accuses India of lacking courage

By Sports Desk October 31, 2021

Virat Kohli accused his India team-mates of a lack of courage after defeat to New Zealand left them on the brink of elimination from the T20 World Cup.

India went down by eight wickets against the Black Caps on Sunday as they produced another meek display following the 10-wicket thrashing by Pakistan in their opening game.

The pre-tournament favourites posted a modest 110-7 from their 20 overs and the Kiwis knocked it off with 33 balls to spare at the Dubai International Stadium.

Kohli's side now need to beat Afghanistan, Scotland and Namibia, and hope results elsewhere go their way to become one of the two teams in their group to progress to the semi-finals.

"I don't think we were brave enough with bat or ball," India captain Kohli said in the post-match presentation.

"With the ball, I mean, obviously we didn't have much to play with, but we were just not brave enough with our body language when we entered the field. 

"New Zealand had better intensity, better body language, and they created pressure on us from the first over onwards, really, and continued that through the innings.

"Every time we felt like we wanted to take a chance [while batting], we lost a wicket. That happens in T20 cricket, but that's most probably or most often the result of that little bit of hesitation with the bat, when you feel like should you go for the shot or not."

New Zealand recorded a third straight victory over India at T20 World Cups, having previously prevailed when they met in 2007 and 2016, as the Men in Blue lost successive T20Is outside India for the first time.

Kohli claimed India's players have been affected by the burden of expectation on them from millions of fans back home and failed to cope with the pressure that brings.

"When you play for the Indian cricket team, you obviously have a lot of expectations, everyone knows that – not only from the fans but from the players themselves," he explained.

"Wherever we play, we are watched, people come to the stadiums to support us, so there's always going to be more with our games, that's always been the case. 

"We've embraced it over the years, and everyone who plays for the Indian team obviously has to embrace that as well, and learn how to cope with it.

"And when you cope with that as a team, you tend to overcome that pressure and those tough situations. And we haven't, in these two games, and that's why we haven't won.

"There's only one way to play T20 cricket – you have to be optimistic, you have to be positive, take calculated risks, and that's what this format is all about.

"Just because you're the Indian cricket team and there's expectations, doesn't mean that you start playing the format differently."

Related items

  • McCullum aware England appointment a 'big risk' but hopes to transform red-ball cricket McCullum aware England appointment a 'big risk' but hopes to transform red-ball cricket

    Brendon McCullum concedes England took "a big risk" by appointing him as men's Test coach, but hopes his side can reinvigorate interest in red-ball cricket across the world.

    England's new men's managing director Rob Key chose New Zealand great McCullum ahead of the likes of Gary Kirsten and interim coach Paul Collingwood.

    McCullum will be tasked with transforming England's fortunes in five-day cricket after just one win in 17 Tests led to the resignation of captain Joe Root, with Ben Stokes his replacement.

    However, McCullum's experience comes from white-ball cricket, where he has only ever coached T20 franchises; Indian Premier League side Kolkata Knight Riders and their Caribbean Premier League affiliate Trinbago Knight Riders.

    While McCullum acknowledged a seeming lack of experience, the 40-year-old remains confident he can make a noticeable impact for England and cricket on a wider scale.

    "I think for me red-ball cricket has always been the pinnacle of the sport, if you look at where the game sits currently, it's probably on a bit of a downward trend and to me the nation that can really change that is England," McCullum told Sky Sports.

    "Because of the tradition of Test cricket here in England and I guess the fan following and the support that it gets in this country.

    "For us to be competitive in Test cricket I think will go a long way in trying to be able to hopefully just shift that a little bit in terms of the perception of red-ball cricket moving forward.

    "I'm confident in the skills that I've got and I'm confident in the group that we have to start things off as well.

    “Obviously it might take a little while to become completely adjusted to the methods and the ways over here and it might take some time for guys to become adjusted to me as well, but I'm looking forward to it.

    "For me it was a big risk taken by everyone but, for me, you don't get anywhere unless you take risks."

    McCullum admitted he will be far from a hands-on coach with the mental aspects of cricket more of interest to him than technique, while he hailed Stokes' leadership.

    "I certainly don't coach technically. I understand the technique obviously, but for me it's more around tactics and man-management and trying to provide the right environment for the team to try and go out there and be the best versions of themselves," he added.

    "So I think with Stokesy as captain we've got a really strong leader, a 'follow me' type of captain and so I think my job will be to try and ensure that we’re consistent with a lot of our messaging.

    "I'll look after the guys inside the environment as well and try and allow them to really grow at a speed which they might not have got to previously, so it's a big challenge."

    McCullum faces home country New Zealand in his first Test in charge of England, which starts next Thursday at Lord's.

  • Champions League final: Will Paris showpiece also be shootout for Ballon d'Or? Champions League final: Will Paris showpiece also be shootout for Ballon d'Or?

    Saturday sees Liverpool and Real Madrid go head-to-head in the final of the Champions League.

    After the trophy has been lifted, the medals handed out and the confetti all cleaned up, there will be talk of more individual matters.

    Discussions have already begun about which player will take home the coveted Ballon d'Or trophy this year, with the goalposts slightly moved for 2022.

    As the World Cup takes place in November and December, it has been decided that this year's award will be handed out in October, with the tournament in Qatar being included in consideration for the 2023 gong.

    It will also take into account the entirety of the 2021-22 season, rather than just the calendar year period.

    Therefore, it is probably safe to say that any players who play a key role in winning the Champions League will give themselves a huge advantage when it comes to voting later this year, and there are three in particular who have already been popping up in conversation.

    Here, Stats Perform takes a look at Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Karim Benzema, breaking down the numbers and trying to predict which one might be donning a tuxedo with a beaming smile at October's ceremony.

    Mohamed Salah

    At the halfway point of the season, you would have been forgiven for suspending betting on at least the Premier League's player of the year, and arguably the Ballon d'Or as well.

    Salah was unstoppable as Liverpool looked to push Manchester City in the title race, as well as steer their way through a tricky Champions League group.

    The Egypt international scored a hat-trick as Liverpool demolished Manchester United 5-0, becoming the first away player to score a hat-trick at Old Trafford for over 18 years, since Ronaldo did so for Real Madrid back in April 2003 in the Champions League.

    At that point, Salah had bagged 15 goals in 12 games for Liverpool for the season, and had only failed to score in one.

    He had 23 goals in all competitions to his name by the time he left to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations in early January, where he helped Egypt reach the final in Cameroon.

    It was heartbreak for Salah and The Pharaohs though, losing on penalties to Senegal, before experiencing exactly the same outcome against the same opposition in their World Cup qualifying play-off almost two months later.

    Salah returned to score crucial goals against Inter in the Champions League last 16 and Norwich City in the Premier League, but after that went 11 games in all competitions without scoring a goal in open play, before bagging another two against United in a 4-0 win at Anfield.

    There were a further seven games without a goal at all after that, though when he came off the bench to score against Wolves on the final day of the season, if it had not been for City's comeback against Aston Villa, Salah would have scored the goal to win his team the Premier League title.

    Salah ended the season with 31 goals in all competitions, as well as 15 assists. He lifted the EFL Cup and FA Cup before missing out on Premier League glory.

    If he can get the "revenge" he is openly seeking against Madrid for their 2018 Champions League final victory against the Reds and make it a trophy treble, he could well be top of the list in the Ballon d'Or voting.

    Sadio Mane

    Like Salah, Mane had an impressive start to the season as he scored in nine of his team's first 16 games in all competitions, though had a drier period just before the Africa Cup of Nations, scoring just once in 10 outings.

    Where Mane arguably has the edge over his rivals is his showing in Cameroon. Though he only scored three goals during the tournament, he played a big part in key moments.

    He netted a pressure stoppage-time penalty in the opening game against Zimbabwe that turned out to be their only goal in the group stage, therefore crucial in them progressing. Mane then scored the opener against Cape Verde in the last 16, and a late clincher against Burkina Faso in the semi-finals.

    Mane then took the weight of a nation on his shoulders as he slammed home the winning penalty in the shoot-out against Egypt in the final.

    By the time he returned to club action with Salah, Luis Diaz had arrived at Anfield and already taken up residence in Mane's usual position on the left of the front three.

    It wasn't a problem, though, as Mane simply reinvented himself as a central striker, scoring a vital winner against West Ham before repeating the trick of scoring a pressure penalty against Egypt to send Senegal to this year's World Cup.

    Mane really started to motor as Liverpool looked to win an unprecedented quadruple, scoring nine goals in his last 13 games, including in both the league draw and FA Cup semi-final win against Man City, and then in both legs of the Champions League semi-final against Villarreal.

    His numbers still might not quite match up to Salah or Benzema, with 23 goals and two assists in 50 appearances in all competitions at club level, but he did only score two fewer non-penalty goals than Salah (25).

    His ability to turn important games and a potential medal collection of EFL Cup, FA Cup, Africa Cup of Nations and Champions League all since January should put him in a strong position.

    Karim Benzema

    Calling Benzema the man for the big occasion still doesn't feel like it quite does him justice. The 34-year-old is in the form of his life, showing that age really is just a number.

    Benzema has made headlines throughout the season, mostly for his uncanny ability to come up with important goals in the Champions League, and he is without doubt the main reason Madrid made it past the last 16, let alone all the way to the final.

    Five goals in the group stages from Benzema helped Los Blancos to a last 16 meeting with Paris Saint-Germain, with Kylian Mbappe and company taking a 1-0 lead into the second leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

    Mbappe was dominating again that night, making it 2-0 on aggregate and getting through time and again, until Benzema took over.

    His 17-minute hat-trick turned the tie on its head, and sent Carlo Ancelotti's team through to face Chelsea, who Benzema also scored a treble against at Stamford Bridge.

    Though Madrid struggled in the second leg at home, Benzema's extra-time strike sent them into the semis, where Man City awaited.

    Two more goals from Benzema in the 4-3 defeat at the Etihad Stadium gave them a fighting chance, and though it was Rodrygo who caused all the drama in the closing stages of normal time of the second leg, it was Benzema from the penalty spot who ultimately took his team to the final.

    As this year's Ballon d'Or takes into account the whole season, you would have to assume that includes the 2020-21 Nations League, which Benzema and France won in October, with his goals in the semi-final win against Belgium and the final success against Spain seeing Les Bleus lift the trophy.

    Benzema was also unstoppable in LaLiga, with his 27 goals being nine more than anyone else managed in the Spanish top flight, and he scored an incredible 44 goals in 45 games in all competitions.

    He has also been almost as creative as Salah and more so than Mane, with 83 chances created and 20 big chances created (a chance from which the attacker would be expected to score), while Salah created 85 chances and 21 big chances, and Mane 63 chances and 14 big chances.

    So, there are the three cases. For me, if the Spanish giants win, I think you can close the betting on Benzema.

    However, should Liverpool lift the trophy, it could lead to an interesting few months as people debate whether Salah's slightly superior numbers or Mane's international credentials mean more.

    Whatever happens, you can be sure that whichever horse you back, you will end up having an argument with someone somewhere who thinks Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo should win the crown again.

  • Kane targets breaking Rooney's England record in Qatar Kane targets breaking Rooney's England record in Qatar

    Harry Kane is hoping to break Wayne Rooney's England goalscoring record at the World Cup later this year, as he looks to help the Three Lions improve on their 2018 semi-final appearance.

    Kane has scored 49 goals in 69 appearances for England after moving level with Bobby Charlton's international tally in a 2-1 friendly win over Switzerland at Wembley in March.

    The Tottenham striker is now just four goals behind Rooney's Three Lions record, despite playing 50 international games fewer than the Manchester United legend.

    Indeed, Kane has averaged 0.71 goals per game for his country, compared to Rooney's 0.45, and it looks to be a matter of time before Gareth Southgate's captain establishes himself as the greatest goalscorer in the national team's history.

    Kane also enjoyed a successful season at club level, registering 17 goals and nine assists in the Premier League to help Antonio Conte's Spurs to Champions League qualification.

    Speaking on The Tonight Show, the Spurs talisman expressed his excitement for England to build on their 2018 World Cup semi-final loss to Croatia, as he targeted breaking Rooney's record in Qatar.

    "I'm excited," Kane told host Jimmy Fallon. "In the last World Cup we got to the semi-finals, which was the furthest we've gone in the tournament for 30 years.

    "The country was going mad, but we fell just that one step short. I'm looking forward to this one as we've got a really good coach and a really good team. 

    "We've been building nicely to this World Cup, and hopefully I can break the goal record while we're there."

    Kane could even break the record before the tournament, with England facing four Nations League contests next month, including clashes with Germany and Euro 2020 final conquerors Italy.

    The 28-year-old scored six goals as England progressed to the final four of the last World Cup in Russia, and a repeat performance would also see him become his country's record goalscorer at the competition, with Gary Lineker having scored 10 goals across the 1986 and 1990 tournaments.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.