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India’s Kohli thriving under World Cup pressure

India captain Virat Kohli speaks at a press conference in Birmingham © AFP / Dibyangshu SARKAR

BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom, Jun 29India captain Virat Kohli says he relishes the intense pressure at the World Cup as he targets a win against England on Sunday that would seal a place in the semi-finals.

The two-time champions have won five of their six league games, with one washout, and need to win just one of their last three matches to guarantee progress from the group phase.

Kohli, the world’s top-ranked Test and one-day international batsman, has hit four consecutive half-centuries and on Thursday became the fastest batsmen to 20,000 international runs across all formats.

“I would say that’s a lie if I say I’m not under pressure,” said Kohli on the eve of the match at Edgbaston.

“I’m probably good at hiding it. If I don’t (feel pressure) then probably I don’t have enough motivation to play any more.

“That is the excitement that all of us carry as international cricketers — to walk into a pressure situation and come out on top.”

England are wobbling badly after two straight defeats to Sri Lanka and Australia and they need to beat both India and New Zealand to guarantee a place in the semi-finals.

Kohli said he did not know why Eoin Morgan’s side, who started the tournament as favourites, had stumbled so badly.

“Look, everyone is a bit surprised. We thought England is probably going to dominate in their own conditions,” said Kohli.

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“But as I said at the beginning of the tournament in the press conference, that pressure is going to be a massive factor to handle and low scores are going to be defended.”

India have impressed at the tournament in England and Wales but their middle-order batting has been a concern, with M.S. Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav questioned over slow scoring in the middle overs.

Dhoni was criticised for his 52-ball 28 against Afghanistan, a game that India won by 11 runs, but Kohli defended the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman and the other players.

“That discussion is always going to go on because we’ve had such a strong top order that these guys have hardly had a chance to bat,” said Kohli.

“We’re not looking too much into it. He (Dhoni) knows exactly what he needs to do.”

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