Captain Rohit Sharma on Monday said that India were not the favourites to win the Nidahas Trophy T20 tri-series. The tournament which starts on Tuesday, also features hosts Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. The stand-in captain said that the Indians, without many star names who have been rested, don’t have the upper hand as the shortest format of the game is unpredictable.
“We won’t label ourselves as favourites. The T20 format is unpredictable and you have got to be on the money at all times. Both our oppositions are strong and we look forward to a good contest,” Rohit said ahead of the series opener against Sri Lanka.
A number of senior players are missing from India’s 15-member squad. Captain Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya and Kuldeep Yadav have all been given a rest following a long tour of South Africa.
While Rohit will lead the side, Shikhar Dhawan has been named his deputy. Wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who has featured in two T20s, and rookie quick Mohammed Siraj, have been given an opportunity. Deepak Hooda and Washington Sundar will fight it out for the spinning all-rounder’s spot.
The tournament is being held to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence.
Matches will be played under lights at the R Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. The tournament follows a round-robin format with all the three teams playing each other twice with the top two moving to the final on March 18.
INDIA LIKELY TEAM:
Rohit Sharma (captain), Shikhar Dhawan (vice-captain), Dinesh Karthik (wk), KL Rahul, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey, Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel, Deepak Hooda, Jaydev Unadkat, Mohammed Siraj
Khan led Pakistan to their only ICC World Cup title in 1992 and Shastri believes Kohli possesses the same desire to lead by example.
“It’s still early days for Virat. He is still very very young. But he is already there among the very best. He wants to lead by example. He reminds me a lot of Imran. He is still very young but he has got lot of qualities that Imran had when it came to leading a side. Which is great,” the India coach told Kolkata publication Anandabazar Patrika.
“Just the ability to always want to dominate, want to compete, irrespective of whatever conditions you get, believe that you can do it. When you have that kind of quality it spreads among the other players as well. And that was very similar to the way Imran led,” Shastri added.
Kohli had a remarkable tour of South Africa with the bat, scoring a ton in the Tests and three in the ODIs to finish with a staggering 871 runs in total. Shastri described Kohli’s heroics on the tour as an unbelievable achievement.
Heaping praise on Kohli, Shastri said: “I think he was fantastic on the last trip. It was a tough trip. When you are the leading batsman in the side plus the captain, plus the conditions you get, plus the side that you are playing which is formidable, you need to be on top of your game.”
“Mentally and physically. And he did just that. For someone to score 870-plus score on a single tour in two months, is an unbelievable achievement. Really unbelievable achievement.”
While there has been no denying the batting genius of the India superstar, his over-the-top aggression on the field has invited its fair share of criticism. Shastri, though, has a simple message for the critics.
“My only advice to them is to mind their own business. I will keep it very simple. Whoever is saying that, mind your own business. Let us get on with our job. I think he is absolutely fine. If there was a problem, the umpires are there,” he said.
“The match-referee is there to sort it out. What are they there for? He is hardly been called by the match-referee for going over the top in his career. So where is the problem?” Shastri added.
Highlighting the differences in South Africa’s pitches for the series against India and the ongoing one against Australia, Shastri said his men had been outstanding in the face of a tough test.
“It is one of the toughest tours and if you look at the pitches that were on offer to us, it is chalk and cheese when you look at the track that has been given against Australia. When you look at the track now in Durban and looked at the tracks we played on, they look like chalk and cheese,” he explained.
Australia eventually beat South Africa by 118 runs in the first Test at Durban to take a 1-0 lead in the four-match series.
India captain Virat Kohli is rewriting history books as a batsman and leader, scoring centuries at a furious pace across formats. He already has 35 centuries in ODIs, 21 tons in Tests, averages more than 50 in every format and has won 21 out of 35 Tests as captain.
His earnings reflect remarkable results on the field, with Kohli among the top 100 highest paid athletes in the world with an estimated annual earning of $22 million according to Forbes.
It should therefore come as no surprise that Kohli has an equally impressive collection of cars. Here’s a look at the cars that the Delhi batsman owns, which according to latest reports stands at nine. You will notice one brand dominating his garage.
LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO SPYDER
It is the best selling Lamborghini model in the world. Kohli calls this black beauty – originally orange but later wrapped – a beast. A V10 that produces 552bhp? We agree.
AUDI R8 LMX
Virat Kohli is Audi India’s brand ambassador and, therefore, owns a fleet of Audis. This limited edition R8 LMX comes with a 5.2-litre V10 engine and produces 570 bhp.
AUDI R8 V10 PLUS
One of the most powerful sportscars by Audi. The R8 V10 is powered by a 5.2-litre V10 engine that delivers 610 bhp.
AUDI A8L W12 QUATTRO
The elegant one in Kohli’s collection. The A8L has a longer wheelbase than the regular A8 and is powered by a 6.3-litre engine that churns out 494 bhp.
Another Audi in Kohli’s garage. He featured prominently in the promotion video for the Audi S5 coupe-styled sedan. Specs? A 3-litre V6 turbocharged engine, 349 bhp.
A premium SUV that sits perfectly in Kohli’s collection. Apparently one of his favourites. A 4.2-litre V8 with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
AUDI RS6 AVANT
The high performance station wagon version of the A6 sedan. Kohli has an Audi for almost every day of the week.
The reliable Fortuner was presented to Kohli when he signed an endorsement deal with the Japanese manufacturer.
The odd one out in Kohli’s garage. It was awarded to Kolhi for his man-of-the series effort during an ODI series in Sri Lanka in 2012.
Pics courtesy Getty Images and Twitter