MELBOURNE: After finally playing like a unit in their World Cup opener against Pakistan, India will seek their first victory at the global showpiece against South Africa on Sunday for an “immense self belief booster”, batsman Virat Kohli has said.
Reigning world champions India thrashed arch-rivals Pakistan by 76 runs in Adelaide on Sunday for a timely shot of confidence after a dreadful one-day international tournament against World Cup co-hosts Australia and England in the lead-up.
India has never beaten South Africa in three previous meetings at World Cups and Kohli was mindful of the task his side faces for a breakthrough at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
“South Africa is as we all know one of the top sides in the world, and they have a good balance of batting and bowling, and their fielding is obviously rare standards in international cricket,” Kohli told reporters on Saturday at the MCG, where the teams will face each other for the first time.
“To get over that hurdle tomorrow will be immense self-belief booster for us in many ways.
“It’s very important to hold momentum in a tournament likes the World Cup and that’s something we started off on a good note and something we’ll be looking to build on over the next few games.”
Kohli can take credit for much of India’s revival, scoring a match-winning 107 to continue his love affair at Adelaide Oval.
Having been demoted to fourth in the batting order in the tri-series, Kohli was restored to three against Pakistan and was adamant he would stay there for the foreseeable future.
“I’ve played enough games to try and experiment the batting position for the team to be in the best combination possible, but we figured out that it’s best for me to bat at number three, which I’ve done over the last few years,” he said.
“Unless you try, you would never know if you’re right or wrong. You have to make mistakes, you have to learn from them, and that was one situation where we wanted to try things out, and we couldn’t have done it at any time apart from the tri-series, and yeah, that was the main plan behind it.”