Birmingham: The clamour for the inclusion Rishabh Pant in the playing XI reached a crescendo when Vijay Shankar was dismissed for 14 off 19 balls against West Indies in the last match. Former England batsman Kevin Pietersen took a dig at India coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli on Saturday for not giving a chance to Pant. “Dear Virat and Ravi, please don’t drop Vijay Shankar. I think he’s coming into his own and would potentially win you tomorrow’s game. Don’t think about Pant. He needs another 3 weeks prep before I think he can get into your World Cup side,” Pietersen tweeted. The sarcasm was unmistakable.
However, Kohli feels a career-defining knock for Vijay is just around the corner. “You can’t really sit down and pinpoint things, but I personally felt he looked really solid. There’s not much that needs to be tinkered. Sometimes, in cricket, you just need a bit of luck to get over from 30 to 60, and then you play a defining knock for the team. He’s very close to that, and we’re very confident he’s going to end up playing that kind of knock for us,” added Kohli.
Kohli said Vijay looked assured against Afghanistan even though he was eventually dismissed for 29. “You know, it’s a strange one because he had a decent game against Pakistan (unbeaten 15 and two wickets) as well. I think against Afghanistan on that pitch he looked really assured. Shot selection, again, we discussed with him for that game. Last game, again, he came out, looked good, and he gets a beautiful ball from Kemar Roach,” said Kohli.
“These things happen in cricket where you don’t necessarily feel you’ve committed any mistakes until the time you get out, and that’s it. So you do need sometimes a bit of luck, especially in the shorter format,” added Kohli.
What was supposed to be a clash of top guns on Sunday has been reduced to a game of survival for England. Kohli said he was surprised by the hosts’ struggle. “Everyone is a bit surprised that we thought England are probably going to dominate in their own conditions, but as I said at the beginning of the tournament that pressure is going to be a massive factor,” Kohli said.