2017 ICC Champions Trophy: Virat Kohli’s Intent Was Positive Unlike AB de Villiers – Harbhajan Singh
India’s veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh feels India’s positive intent and the desire to win helped them to come out on top in the must-win game against South Africa.
With both teams locked on two points and a win needed for either of the teams to advance to the last four, a blockbuster of the match was expected. But just like the umpteenth number of times in the past, South Africa once again failed to live up to the expectation in a big match. After being asked to bat first, the Proteas bundled out for 191 before Team India chased down the total by losing just two wickets and with 12 overs remaining.
“It was a game in which the desire to win mattered a lot and South Africa simply did not turn up. Their approach and intent wasn’t positive and that essentially played a very crucial role in the way it lost. They needed to rise to the occasion and South Africa just didn’t do that,” Harbhajan wrote in his column for the ICC.
“At the international level, the margin for error is always minimal, and South Africa did not play the big moments well. Not only did their batting unit suffer a collective failure, but also made silly mistakes, thereby, allowing India to control the game,” he added.
The Proteas had begun their innings on a good note with opener Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock adding 76 runs for the first wicket and then the latter scoring a scoring a half-century to take his team to a commanding 116 for one in the 25th over. However, once de Kock and AB de Villiers were out in quick succession, South Africa kept on losing wickets at regular intervals and were eventually shot out for 191.
With the Indians bowlers keeping things tight right from the word go, the fielders also complimented them with some brilliant fielding which resulted in as many as three-run outs including that of AB de Villiers and David Miller.
“You don’t see three run-outs in an innings that often. Dismissing AB de Villiers and David Miller with their brilliant fielding, Team India enjoyed a huge boost in confidence,” he said.
Expressing his surprise over South Africa’s consistent failures to perform in ICC events, Harbhajan said:
“I did not expect South Africa, the world’s top-ranked ODI side team, to choke yet again. I thought they had shed the choker tag, but I was clearly wrong. I just don’t understand why South Africa fall short of expectations at the global tournaments year after year.”
He further said India skipper Virat Kohli’s approach was far more positive than his South African counterpart and feels that it played a big role in deciding the outcome of the match.
“Kohli and de Villiers are teammates in the Indian Premier League, playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore, but you can tell how apart they are right from the manner in which they approach games.
Kohli’s intent has always been so positive. It shows when he steps onto the field. On the other hand, you just don’t see that from de Villiers. This is where Kohli beats him. And such things do matter, even more so when you’re the captain of the side. The team catches on to such vibes and that’s what separates a winning team from the rest,” Harbhajan said.
He concluded his column with a word of advice for the perennial underachievers of the game.
“Despite the defeat, South Africa is still a very good, quality side. All they need to do is get together and believe in themselves. South Africa need to change the approach like how England did after the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015. You can see how expressive its game has become since then.
South Africa needs to come up with a plan and figure out why it doesn’t perform well in major tournaments. It is a quality side, but sadly it doesn’t play as well as India and the other big guns. That needs to change if it is to win anything major in the future,” concluded the off-spinner.
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