India captain Virat Kohli has described Rohit Sharma as the best One-Day player in international cricket right now after his deputy scored a record-equalling fourth century in a single edition of the World Cup.
Rohit’s 104 off 92 balls in the 28-run win over Bangladesh guided India to the World Cup semi-finals here on Tuesday and in the process he also equalled Kumar Sangakkara’s record of scoring most tons in a World Cup edition.
He is currently the highest run-getter in the ongoing mega-event with 544 runs from seven innings, including four centuries and one fifty.
“I have been watching it for years now. He’s (Rohit) the best One-day player around and we are so delighted to see him. When he plays like that, everybody is happy to see him strike this so well,” Kohli about his deputy at the post match presentation ceremony.
The other architect of India’s win was pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who, with his toe-crushing yorkers, derailed Bangladesh’s chase.
“His overs were always going to be crucial, so that’s why we stopped him after four initially,” said Kohli.
“He’s a world-class bowler and he just knows what he’s up against. We can look to capitalise on situations where we are in a position to score those extra 30 runs. Very happy with the way the team has played so far.”
India became the second team after title holders Australia to enter the the semi-finals of the 50-over showpiece.
“It’s good to have qualified on the points table now. This will keep us in a good frame of mind going into the semi-finals,” Kohli said.
Against Bangladesh, India went in with only five bowlers and Kohli said it was a gamble which they took keeping in mind the size of the ground and combination of the team.
“(Five bowlers) Look, we experienced that Hardik (Pandya) when put under pressure has come back really well. He’s really looking forward to do stuff for the team. He has a gut feel of what the batsman is looking to do.
“I know five bowlers was a gamble, but it was keeping in mind the ground dimensions. We wanted to play the perfect combination for the small boundary,” the skipper explained.
Kohli also thanked the cricket-crazy Indian fans who thronged the stadium in large numbers in every match to support their team.
“Thank you – the fans have been magnificent.”
Player-of-the-match Rohit Sharma said he had positive feelings before going to bat but admitted that he was also lucky to have got a reprieve when he was on nine.
Rohit was dropped by Tamim Iqbal at deep mid-wicket off Mustafizur Rahman early on in his innings.
“I had a great feeling right at the start. It’s a great pitch to bat on. The first game against South Africa, I had to take my time. Against England as well, the pitch was two-paced, and they used the conditions really well. There was no question of scoreboard batting first, so that’s what I had to do,” he said.
“I was lucky (early on)…fortune favours the brave. I never think about the shorter boundaries when I bat, because my game is all about piercing the field. Once you are set, the idea is to put pressure on the bowlers.”
Asked about his personal milestone of four centuries in a single World Cup, Rohit said: “Oh I thought I just got a 100 today. My mantra is whatever has happened in the past is in the past. Those in form have to bat long and get the team to a big score. I need to focus on the next game now.”
Losing skipper Mashrafe Mortaza lauded his team’s effort but rued the dropped catch of Rohit, which eventually turned out to be the difference.
“This was a good effort, but we had to win this match. We could have had a bit more luck, but Shakib Al Hasan has been in superb form, and Mushfiq has batted beautifully. Rohit’s catch was obviously disappointing, but those things happen in the field,” he said.
He said lack of partnerships did the damage for his side.
“If one of them could have been 80-90, it could have been a different match,” Mortaza said.
Out of the World Cup, Mortaza now wants to end on a high with a win against Pakistan in their last league game on Friday.
“We have played our best, and fans have been fantastic. Hopefully we will end on a good note,” he signed off. (PTI)