India captain Virat Kohli on Tuesday said that even with two South African pacers–Dale Steyn and Lungi Ngidi–ruled out of the match on Wednesday, the Proteas would be a “very dangerous side” on their day and would not like to take the opponent lightly.
He also declared that batting all-rounder Kedar Jadhav is fit for playing tomorrow.
“Injuries are part of the game. These things can’t be predicted. I’m sure any team that gets hit with injuries is never a good thing. Still, South Africa are talented and very dangerous side on their day. Even with replacements, they would be a very strong side,” Kohli said in a pre-match press conference.
India are set to open its 50-over campaign against Faf du Plessis-led side on June 5 at the Rose Bowl.
Steyn suffered a second shoulder injury, which has not responded to treatment, ruling him out of bowling for the foreseeable future. The speedster has been replaced by left-arm fast bowler Beuran Hendricks. Meanwhile, Lungi Ngidi, who suffered a hamstring injury during a match against Bangladesh, will take around a week or 10 days to recover.
“We never take anyone lightly and whether a few key players get injured or not. If a youngster is stepping in and has the right mindset, then he can really perform on the day. We need to maintain respect for that and approach the game focusing on our strengths and what we can do as a side,” he added.
Kohli who has played along with Steyn for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League said he’s feeling really bad for Dale as he is really a motivated person.
“I am really feeling bad for Dale. He was bowling very well. I feel bad for him because he’s a friend and he’s really motivated to perform for his country. I can understand his frustration, those niggles and injuries are just not going his way. I wish him a speedy recovery,” Kohli said.
India are the only team which has not played a single game so far. When asked whether it will turn out to be an advantage or create problems for the team, Kohli said it has been an advantage as they got an opportunity to learn and absorb from other nine teams.
“It’s an advantage, understanding how the games have gone, what the conditions have to offer, what the overcast conditions bring into play, when the sun’s out it’s a totally different ball game altogether. What’s the pace of play when you see other teams playing. What the approach is. From that point of view, we have a lot to absorb and learn from.”
Asked whether the Indian team not having played a match till now while all others have played at least one, he said it does not matter whether a has played before or not.
“If a team has played before or not, it really doesn’t matter on the day. It depends on how the team turns out on the day, what kind of mental set-up they have. We have to be mentally and skillfully stronger than the opposition whoever we play on the day. Our focus will be there.”
“We have selected a side that gives us all kind of options. Depending on the conditions we are going to play. Somewhere you might see three seamers playing, somewhere two wrist-spinners, one wrist-spinner and one finger spinner playing together. Looking at the pitch now we’ll have discussions over what the balanced combination would be. We are equipped to handle all kind of conditions here,” he added.
Replying to a question on the injured Jadhav, the captain said the playing is raring to go and he had come up really in the practice session. He has battking well in the nets, he added.
Kohli has been India’s go-to batsmen for more than three years now. The right-hander has registered most centuries for any batsmen since the 2015 World Cup. The skipper of the Indian team said dealing with people’s expectations have become a part of his process now.
“Look when you perform for a long time, expectations will always be there. I sort of understand how to go along with the expectations. You don’t go out there to prove anything to anyone, that’s a fact but dealing with the expectations is a part of my process now,” Kohli said.
South African pacer Kagiso Rabada called Indian skipper Kohli as “immature” some days back and said that the Indian skipper cannot handle abuse. However, Kohli said that if anything needs to be discussed, he is willing to do it face to face with Rabada.
He even lauded Rabada for the skills he possesses and said the batting lineup needs to be respectful against such a world class bowler.
“Well, I have played against Kagiso many times in the past. If anything needs to be discussed, it can be done man to man, I won’t use this press conference to answer anything,” Kohli said.
“Rabada is a world class player. He has the passion and on his day he can go through any batting line-up on his day. We have played well against him in the past, but you need to be respectful against such a world-class bowler,” he added.