Forget the big-hitters, India captain Virat Kohli believes it is the bowlers who will be biting back at the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup.
T20 scoring methods have increasingly crept into the 50-over game since Australia held the trophy aloft in 2015, with England breaking the world record for the record ODI highest total twice in the last three years.
The prospect of a side reaching 500 in kind English conditions has generated plenty of headlines in the build-up to the tournament but Kohli believes ball may triumph in the battle with bat.
“England seem obsessed with getting to 500 before anyone else and there is a lot of talk about someone doing it at this tournament,” he said.
“But at a World Cup, things are totally different. As the tournament goes on, scoring will become harder and pitches will deteriorate.
“If a side bats first and gets 260 or 270, then that will be hard to chase. I promise you, you will see 250 defended in this tournament.
“Chasing those totals will be almost as hard as chasing a 360 or 370 outside of a World Cup. Not all teams will win matches early on and some won’t be in good positions.
“They will need results and when you need to apply pressure, teams may play a bit more conservatively. It won’t be gung-ho from ball one.” Ranked second in the world, India are one of the favourites to lift the trophy but Kohli knows they need to be more ruthless if they are to collect a third title since the first tournament in England in 1975. They led Australia 2-0 in a best-of-five series this year before falling to a 3-2 defeat and Kohli expects greater concentration from his squad.
“We learned a lot from that. We thought we would win at least one from the final three but we let it slip and Australia showed us what can happen if you really believe,” he added.
“They showed more passion and character than we did and we know we need to bring that here.
“England are the strongest side but all ten are well-balanced and strong. For me, it is a great honour to captain India at the World Cup.
“There will be nerves but we believe in ourselves and we know we have a good squad. Now it’s time to deliver.”