Kohli challenges 'flexible' India to stay calm in Pakistan clash

By Sports Desk June 15, 2019

Virat Kohli wants India to forget about the opposition and instead focus on their own game as they prepare to face rivals Pakistan on Sunday.

Old Trafford is the venue for the Cricket World Cup clash between the two neighbouring countries, though the much-anticipated fixture may be hampered by the Manchester rain.

Bad weather put paid to India's 100 per cent record at this year's tournament when their clash with New Zealand at Trent Bridge was washed out, though they remain in a good position in the race to reach the semi-finals.

Pakistan, by contrast, have managed one win in four outings, while they have never beaten India in six previous World Cup meetings.

Kohli knows an expectant audience, both inside the venue and back home in India, will be watching on, yet called for his players to keep their minds on the job at hand, rather than get carried away by the occasion.

"The fans' point of view is very different," said the India captain. "They should enjoy the atmosphere, enjoy the occasion the way they want to and the way it's been enjoyed for years.

"But the players obviously have to maintain the mindset we have for years approaching any kind of game, whether it's India v Pakistan, India v Australia, India v England or South Africa, whoever it is.

"Our mindset remains the same, just to go out there and be professional about our cricket and execute what we're expected to execute, because for us this is a responsibility and people expect us to play a certain way, and that's our focus."

India fielded the same XI in impressive victories over South Africa and Australia but will have to make at least one change this weekend.

Shikhar Dhawan suffered a hairline fracture of his left thumb while making a superb century against Australia at The Oval, meaning KL Rahul is likely to be promoted to open the innings alongside Rohit Sharma.

However, Kohli admitted the conditions – showers are forecast during the day, raising the possibility of a shortened match – could lead to further alterations, potentially with the addition of an extra seamer to the bowling attack.

"We have to be flexible," said the batsman.

"We can't be rigid in our approach because if the conditions are very different from what we played in the last game, then we'll have to think of different combinations, which areas to strengthen when it comes to the bowling attack.

"If pace becomes a more important option, then we'll look to explore that. If not, if the length of the game is going to be full and we expect the game to be 50 overs both sides, then we'll probably think of another combination, but we'll have to be flexible.

"We'll have to see how today pans out, how tomorrow the conditions are.

"I think all players are in a zone to be ready to play, so that helps in selecting the combination that you need to, depending on what conditions you're going to face."

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