Opening batsman KL Rahul said a confident India will aim to push England closer to a shock World Cup elimination when the two sides clash on Sunday. On Thursday, skipper Virat Kohli made a gritty 72 to extend India’s unbeaten run in the tournament with a 125-run thrashing of West Indies, all but booking a semi-finals spot. India displaced England from the top of ODI rankings and next face the hosts in a key clash of the league phase in Birmingham on Sunday. England’s hopes of making the semi-finals hang in the balance as they need to win their remaining two matches but Rahul insisted that India will not be looking to take their foot off the accelerator.
“If we play the best cricket, and if we play the kind of cricket that we’ve been playing in the last four or five games, we’ll end up most probably on the winning side,” said Rahul, who made 48 during a 69-run second-wicket stand with Kohli on Thursday at Old Trafford.
“Individually and as a team, we’re focused on getting our plans right, executing our skills right and again it’s a big game against England.
“So hopefully the confidence and the momentum that we have we can carry that to Birmingham and it will be great to get more wins.”
Kohli’s 82-ball innings saw off the early threat from West Indies paceman Kemar Roach who took three wickets on a used Old Trafford pitch. Kohli’s poise and a late blitz from MS Dhoni, who hit an unbeaten 56, and Hardik Pandya, who smashed 46, ensured India a winning total of 268 for seven in 50 overs. Rahul said the team’s ability to adapt in different conditions has been the key for their success in the round-robin competition. “We have that kind of confidence in the batting unit. So we don’t mind taking that little extra time,” said Rahul, who was promoted to the opener’s slot after injury to Shikhar Dhawan.
“If we go to the next game, there might be a bit of movement, might be overcast. So we need to be flexible in our minds.”
India have lived up to their pre-tournament favourites tag with five wins from six matches including a washout. They just need one victory from their remaining three games to make the last-four where defending champions Australia have already qualified. Kohli, with four successive half-centuries, has been a big reason for the team’s solid showing and Rahul was quick to draw inspiration from the exemplary leader.
“I mean, he just kept batting well, whenever you see the IPL or Test cricket or T20 cricket or One-Day Internationals,” said Rahul of the run-machine.
“And that’s what is great to see and inspiring for us and the team to learn from him and probably understand and have the same kind of passion and go out every game wanting to do well for the country.”