Kohli hails Test comeback kings as India set up New Zealand final clash

By Sports Desk March 06, 2021

Virat Kohli believes India delivered on the challenge to show "fearlessness" against England as the hosts scorched to a series-clinching victory in Ahmedabad.

A crushing win by an innings and 25 runs at the Narendra Modi Stadium sealed a 3-1 triumph for India, capping an impressive recovery after going down to defeat in the opener.

The first two Tests were played in Chennai, with the third and fourth in Ahmedabad, and once India were jolted to form by their early setback they found dominant form.

"I think the comeback pleased me the most," Kohli said. "I think the first game was a bit of an aberration, in the way that we play as a team.

"There was just a hiccup and I think England outplayed us. From the next game onward it was more exciting cricket and we got into the game early."

India have booked a showdown with New Zealand in the World Test Championship final, which is due to take place in England in June, at Lord's if COVID-19 conditions allow.

"Now we can accept we are in the final," Kohli said. "It was more of a distraction until now for us, because we are a side that is very committed to playing Test cricket and these extra things can be a distraction.

"Now we are in the final which we can't wait to be a part of."

India had a host of star performers against England, with a number of outstanding contributions in the final match. Rishabh Pant was named man of the match after his stellar century and Axar Patel took nine wickets to reach 27 from his first three Test appearances, having forged an outstanding spin partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin.

Kohli pointed to Rohit Sharma's 161 in the first innings of the second Chennai match as the most telling contribution in the series.

"Ashwin's obviously been a banker in the last six, seven years in Test cricket – his numbers speak volumes for what he's done in the last few years," Kohli said, speaking at the post-match presentation.

"But I think Rohit's knock was the defining moment in us coming back into the series, getting 160 on that pitch is as good as a 250 on any good batting wicket

"It's definitely one of his best Test knocks, if not the best, and that gave us the kind of momentum we needed as a side and really got us into the contest. It was an outstanding innings."

Kohli explained: "After the first game, we had to up our body language. We spoke about the fact that nothing's a given whether you're playing at home or away.

"Every team at international level is a quality side and we need to be at our A game to be able to beat them and that's exactly what our mindset is.

"I know in future we'll have hiccups, we'll have a few things that will be of concern, but we'll have to keep ironing them out and that's been the hallmark of our team.

"Our bench strength is as strong as it's ever been and that's a great sign for Indian cricket.

"The idea was to have youngsters who come in and perform with fearlessness, take the situations on, so when the transition happens eventually it's not difficult for Indian cricket and the standard doesn't fall below what we have set in the last few years."

He pointed to Pant, Washington Sundar and Axar showing tenacity with the bat in India's innings in the fourth Test. 

"These are the kind of situations where individuals stand up and say, 'Okay, I'm going to make a mark and make a name for himself and be that player that can be counted on', and that's exactly what they've done," Kohli said.

Related items

  • Warner only one to receive 'flak' for ball-tampering, he believes Warner only one to receive 'flak' for ball-tampering, he believes

    David Warner believes he is the only one who has taken "a lot of flak" over Australia’s ball-tampering scandal in 2018.

    Warner and then-captain Steve Smith were banned from cricket for a year after being found guilty of using sandpaper to damage the ball during a Test match against South Africa.

    Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the act, was also suspended for nine months.

    Warner was ruled out of any leadership positions for Australia throughout the rest of his career after it was found that he orchestrated the plan, while Smith knew about it but failed to prevent it.

    The 37-year-old is set to retire from international cricket at the end of the T20 World Cup and admitted he was looking forward to not being reminded of the scandal when he does.

    "One can only absorb so much," Warner told Cricket Australia. "Coming back since 2018, I've probably been the only one that's ever copped a lot of flak.

    "I've always been that person who has copped it. It's great to go out knowing I'm not going to cop it anymore."

    Australia are currently competing for their second T20 World Cup title, previously winning the tournament in 2021, with Warner remaining a key part of the team after returning from his ban.

    While Warner admits he will probably always be associated with the ball-tampering scandal, he is hopeful his career will be viewed in a different light when he retires.

    "If they're real cricket tragics, and they love cricket, they will always see me as that cricketer - someone who tried to change the game," he added.

    "Someone who tried to follow in the footsteps of the openers before me, and try and score runs at a great tempo and change Test cricket."

    Australia face Bangladesh in the Super 8s of the T20 World Cup on Friday.

  • Euro 2024 social round-up: Ronaldo's rally cry as Portuguese laud it up in Leipzig and France offer Mbappe update Euro 2024 social round-up: Ronaldo's rally cry as Portuguese laud it up in Leipzig and France offer Mbappe update

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal claimed a late win over Czechia to get their Euro 2024 campaign up and running.

    Before that, there was a sensational Group F opener between Turkiye and Georgia.

    But the football was not the only thing to look out for.

    Here, we round up the best of Tuesday's social posts from around Euro 2024.

     

    Ronaldo's rallying cry

    Ahead of becoming the first player to feature at six European Championships, Ronaldo posted a motivational message on social media.

    "Portuguese, today begins another chapter in our history," Ronaldo wrote in a caption that came with a video of some of his best moments in a Portugal shirt.

    "I fondly remember my first day with the national team, a journey full of challenges and victories. Now, I have the honor of being alongside a team of champions, full of talent and determination. With everyone’s strength and support, we turn dreams into reality. Let's, together, fight for another triumph. United, we are unstoppable. Go Portugal!"

    The rallying cry just about worked - Ronaldo didn't score, but Portugal beat Czechia 2-1 thanks to Francisco Conceicao's last-gasp winner.

    Portuguese party in Leipzig

    There were plenty of travelling Portuguese fans who made themselves right at home in Leipzig.

    It looked like a fair old party pre kick-off!

    Nose job

    Mbappe will require surgery, France coach Didier Deschamps confirmed, to fix his broken nose.

    However, when the superstar forward will go under the knife remains to be seen.

    Deschamps revealed this in a video interview posted to the official France team X account. Could Mbappe's Euro 2024 be over, or will he make it back in time to feature?

    Kante's warm welcome

    It was not all doom and gloom for France.

    N'Golo Kante was spectacular in his first competitive game for Les Bleus in two years, and the 33-year-old midfielder received a rapturous reception when he returned to the dressing room after the match, with the moment captured on video.

    Baller

    Turkiye and Georgia served up a thrilling encounter, and Arda Guler was one of the stars of the show.

    The Real Madrid midfielder became the youngest player to score on his Euros debut, breaking a record set by Ronaldo way back in 2004.

    He did so in stunning fashion, curling home from outside the area, and it's worth watching again and again.

    Quaresma watches on

    Ex-Portugal star Quaresma was no stranger to scoring great goals on the big stage, and he watched on from the stands to support his nation.

    Cool as you like

    Looking dapper is part and parcel of a team's travelling routine to and from match locations, especially for major tournaments.

    And the German team made sure to dress with the style befitting of hosts as they left their training base and headed for Stuttgart, where they take on Hungary on Wednesday.

    Derek's Cologne tour

    The Tartan Army have taken over Cologne ahead of Scotland's clash with Switzerland on Wednesday.

    And with the help of commentator Derek Rae, Scotland's social media team put out a handy guide to the city.

    Rice grabs the lens

    France's Benjamin Pavard took over camera duties for an ad hoc Olivier Giroud photo shoot earlier in the competition, and now England's Declan Rice has got in on the act.

    After training on Tuesday, Rice grabbed hold of the camera to get some snaps of his team-mates. And the results were pretty good!

  • The Numbers Game: England out to book last-16 spot at Euro 2024 The Numbers Game: England out to book last-16 spot at Euro 2024

    England know that the last 16 of Euro 2024 is within touching distance as they head into a reunion with Denmark.

    The Three Lions beat the Danes in the semi-finals at Euro 2020, coming from behind to win 2-1 after extra time.

    Harry Kane was England's hero as he converted a penalty winner, though spot-kicks would of course go on to prove to be their downfall in the final against Italy.

    There is less on the line when England face Denmark again on Thursday, though Gareth Southgate's team will progress to the knockout stage should they win.

    Here, we use Opta data to preview the Group C clash.

    What's expected?

    England are forecasted to win this one, with the Opta supercomputer handing them a 54.5 per cent chance of getting the job done in Frankfurt.

    Denmark are sure to be no pushovers, though, and have a 20.6 per cent win likelihood, with the draw threat at 25 per cent.

    This will be the fourth encounter between Denmark and England at a major tournament. Three of those will have come at the Euros, and one at the 2002 World Cup.

     

    Denmark won none of the previous three meetings (D1 L2), scoring only one goal in the process, Mikkel Damsgaard's free-kick in the semi-final of Euro 2020.

    There have only been five goals scored in the last four meetings between Denmark (two) and England (three) in all competitions.

    Meanwhile, the Three Lions only had 12 touches in Serbia's box in their 1-0 win on MD1, their lowest total of touches in the opposition box in a European Championship game since 2012 against Ukraine (also 12).

    Indeed, the England v Serbia match saw only 11 shots (five for England, six for Serbia) – that tally is the lowest on record in a European Championship match, fewer than every one of the other 322 matches in the competition since 1980.

    England have also kept a clean sheet in each of their last five group-stage matches at the European Championship finals, the longest such run in the competition's history.

    So, this game is probably not one to expect too many goals in.

    Bellingham a safe bet but can Foden and Kane flourish?

    Jude Bellingham came into Euro 2024 with the pressure and hype ramped right up. He is the face of this England squad, and there is an onus on him to deliver.

    Well, he started on the right foot, scoring in the 13th minute on Sunday to seal that 1-0 victory over Serbia.

    Bellingham displayed the kind of chance-sniffing instinct he has demonstrated so brilliantly during his first season at Real Madrid, getting on the end of Bukayo Saka's deflected cross and powering home with his head.

    Having become the first player to play at two European Championship tournaments before the age of 21, he is also the second England player to score at two major tournaments before turning 21 (also scored vs Iran at the 2022 World Cup), along with Michael Owen, who scored at the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.

    Bellingham was crucial in every aspect against Serbia. He led England for touches (93), while only Declan Rice (81) and Kyle Walker (77) attempted more passes than the 20-year-old, who also competed in a team-leading 16 duels, winning 10 of them, and was successful with two of his three tackles.

    Southgate's system seems designed to allow Bellingham to flourish, though has that come at the expense of Phil Foden?

    The Manchester City star struggled when he did find space against Serbia, though there is perhaps a case that the Premier League Player of the Year is being shoehorned in out of position, too.

    Kane, meanwhile, had just two touches in the opening 45 minutes, before finishing with 24 – exactly half that of Jordan Pickford and the lowest of any England outfielder who started the match. The Bayern Munich striker did have a header tipped onto the crossbar, but that was his only chance of the game. Southgate needs to get him more service.

     

    England average 1.9 goals per game under Southgate at major tournaments, the best ratio of any Three Lions boss, but there could be so much more to come from this star-studded attack.

    Christian the Great (Dane)

    Christian Eriksen scored his maiden goal at the European Championship in Denmark's 1-1 draw with Slovenia.

    At 32 years and 123 days old, he became the oldest Dane to score at the Euros and oldest at a major tournament since 33-year-old Jon Dahl Tomasson at the 2010 World Cup.

    It was a clever run and deft finish from the Manchester United playmaker, who created seven chances from set-pieces in the match, the most by a player in a European Championship fixture since Gary McAllister in 1992 for Scotland against Germany (eight).

     

    Getting Eriksen into dangerous positions has to be the gameplan for Kasper Hjulmand's team, who completed 583 passes and enjoyed an 89 per cent passing accuracy against Slovenia, both record highs for the Danes that Opta has on record (since 1980) at the European Championship.

    Despite their run to the last four three years ago, Denmark have won just one of their last six group stage games at the Euros (D1 L4), beating Russia 4-1 at Euro 2020 to ensure qualification to the round of 16.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Denmark - Rasmus Hojlund 

    Eriksen will be the one England have to stop influencing the match in midfield, but John Stones and Marc Guehi – should they start – will have to be on high alert to keep Man United's Hojlund under wraps, too.

    He only had one shot against Slovenia, which he did get on target, but he is a quality finisher and can certainly do some damage.

    England - Phil Foden

    Foden created just one chance in a subdued performance against Serbia, but there can be no doubting his quality.

    Get him more involved, and in fairness, Foden has to sharpen up when he does get on the ball, and England will surely have far too much for Denmark's defence.

     

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.