With the entire cricketing community expecting a run-fest, India captain Virat Kohli said on Thursday that he expects relatively low-scoring games in the later stages of the upcoming ICC World Cup in England.
One-Day International cricket has faced flak over the years for becoming too favourable for batsmen, with even 300 often considered as a sub-par total these days. The numbers are even more incredible for matches played in England in recent past.
Kohli, though, joked that hosts England could become the first team to score 500 runs in ODIs.
With 481/6 against Australia last year, England already hold the record for the highest ODI total. In their build to the World Cup, they outplayed Pakistan 4-0 in a high-scoring series.
At the captains’ media interaction ahead of the mega event, Kohli was asked if the 500-run mark could be breached in this edition.
“I was just going to say it really depends on these guys [England]. They seem to be obsessed with getting to 500 before anyone else,” said Kohli while pointing to his English counterpart Eoin Morgan, who sat next to him.
Although the Indian captain expects big scores in the first few weeks of the 2019 World Cup, he reckons the pressure of the tournament will lead to lower totals towards the business end.
Kohli conceded that the tournament will see a run-fest but pressure of playing in a World Cup will make even 260-270 hard to chase.
“It is going to be a high-scoring tournament but back home too I said that 260-270 will also be as tough to get in a World Cup as chasing 370-380. I don’t see many high-scoring games in the latter stages of the tournament, initially some teams might get on a roll but later on you will see 250 defended as well. That is the kind of pressure the World Cup brings,” he said.
The Indian captain expects the teams to be more cautious as the tournament progresses. “Not all the teams are going to be in a great position [in the latter half]. The ones who have to make sure that they get the result are going to be under pressure while chasing even a small total. The fact that you are going to be close to a knockout berth will get you under pressure in the latter stages and all teams recognise that.
“Then you will not see many teams going gung-ho from ball one. Generally both teams would like to start in a balanced way and look to capitalise on the moments. So I see pressure being a massive factor in the World Cup.”
The same question was posed to Australian captain Aaron Finch, who was also part of the 2015 World Cup winning squad.
“If you see the last couple of years, the trajectory of scores has been going up and up in England. We have been at the receiving end of the highest one. I don’t want to put a number on it. Hard to tell [what could be the highest-score in the tournament]. On small grounds with good pitches, if the top order gets going, the teams are so explosive these days and if they keep going till the end, it [the total] could be anything.”
Finch picked India and England as the teams to watch out for, though he said it would be a highly competitive tournament with all teams playing each other at least once.
Kohli also agreed with Finch that England are going into the World Cup as the “strongest” side. The marquee clash of the mega event will be on June 16 when India take on arch-rivals Pakistan at Old Trafford.
‘Pakistan clash is just another game’
A question on that mouth-watering contest was always coming and when it came, Kohli and Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed were asked how they will approach the high-pressure game.
“Look India-Pakistan is always a very, very anticipated match but we keep saying this again and again. If you ask the players, it is very different from how the fans look at the game. Yes, you feel the anticipation and excitement of the fans when you enter the stadium but as soon as you step on the field, it is very professional.
“For us, it is just another game you need to win as a team. Yes, it brings pressure because the atmosphere in the stadium is very different and as I said you only experience that till the time you start competing in the game. As soon as you get into it, it is a game of cricket for all of us,” said the India captain as Ahmed nodded in agreement.
“My answer is the same. I don’t need to add,” said the Pakistan skipper.
While many expect a bagful of runs in the World Cup, bowlers are bound to come into play at some point, said New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.
“We have spoken about the batting but equally important is the bowling. I have no doubt that there will be venues which will be more suited to the bowlers. We will have to find a way to play well in all conditions,” said Williamson.
[Inputs from PTI]