Rohit Sharma steered India to a 6-wicket victory in their opening match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 after Jasprit Bumrah and Yuzvendra Chahal restricted South Africa to 227 for 9. The Proteas have now lost all their three matches so far in the tournament.
While India thus began their campaign with a win, the Proteas are struggling to do justice their World No.3 ranking, having lost all three of their matches so far. Injuries to key players haven’t made their job any easier.
But for Kohli, it was the happiest possible start possible. India’s first match of this World Cup came after about a week of the start of the tournament and the India captain did speak about the ‘long wait’.
“The wait was very long and then you get a game like this where it was challenging throughout. But the first win is always important. On the field, we were confident as a group,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
Chasing the 228-run target, India needed 47.3 overs to complete their job. Run-making wasn’t easy, said Kohli.
“From our point of view it was important to start on the right note. We might not have had the run rate, but if you look at how the game went and how the pitch behaved, it was challenging,” he said.
The captain, who scored only 18, heaped full praise on Rohit Sharma, who stayed unbeaten on 122, and the other supporting batsmen.
“Hats off to Rohit, his innings was special. And also the guys who batted around him. I would say it’s a professional win,” Kohli said.
Explaining how it was not very easy to chase down the not-so-steep total, the Indian talisman said: “With the bat, we had to work our way through because of the attack they have. That’s where Rohit’s innings was very, very special. You need the experienced guys to stand up.
“One of the top three getting a hundred is something we bank on. KL (Rahul) batted really well with him. Then MS (Dhoni) showed great composure. Hardik (Pandya) finished well too. He looks in a good headspace.
“It’s one thing to say we’re a strong team on paper, and quite another to be professional about the win in all three aspects.”
South Africa skipper Faf du Plessis won the toss and opted to bat first in Southampton. Kohli said he would have done the opposite. “We were going to bowl first,” he said.
Speaking about India’s bowling, Kohli said: “They (South Africa) were coming off two losses, so you have to make sure you get the first 15 overs right. Jasprit is operating at a different level to be honest.”