LONDON: Virat Kohli says India will thrive under pressure in their make or break Champions Trophy clash with South Africa on Sunday.
After slumping to a shock defeat against Sri Lanka on Thursday, holders India must win their final Group B fixture at The Oval to avoid an embarrassing exit.
India came into the tournament as favourites to lift the silverware, but failure to build on their opening match thrashing of Pakistan has put their title defence in jeopardy.
Although he is well aware of the criticism that would come with elimination at the group stage, India captain Kohli is remaining upbeat and he called on his players to embrace the high-stakes nature of their showdown with South Africa.
“It’s become very exciting. Every game is effectively a quarter-final now,” Kohli said.
“In our group especially, all teams are on two points, and you have to win your next game to go through, which is an exciting position to be in for all teams.
“It’s a great scenario where you literally have two matches now which are going to be even more competitive cricket.
“So we are pretty clear about the whole situation. It certainly opened up the whole table for sure.”
South Africa also come into the final fixture on the back of a defeat, against Pakistan on Wednesday, but Kohli warned his team not to underestimate the Proteas.
“We are against a very high quality side and we have to go out there and play good cricket,” he said.
“So there’s no room for complacency in a tournament like this, and we as a team certainly don’t feel that.
“Even if we had four points on the board right now, we still would have gone out there to try to beat South Africa, and that’s exactly the mindset we are going to take into the next game.”
Although India posted a solid score of 321 against Sri Lanka, their batsman failed to push on for an unassailable total.
India’s bowlers were even more culpable after a lacklustre effort allowing Sri Lanka to win for the loss of just three wickets.
– Combinations –
Kohli hinted changes are on the agenda as he looks to find the right balance in his bowling attack.
“We will have to sit down and think of how we match up against the opposition that we’re playing against,” Kohli said.
“As I said, all options are open. We had certain things in mind which didn’t come off well against Sri Lanka.
“There will be a lot of things discussed, what went wrong and what combinations we can come out with in the next game.
“If you want to bring in a bit more balance into the bowling attack by changing it up a little bit, that will be up for discussion as well.”
South Africa go into the game with question marks over the form and fitness of captain AB de Villiers, who was dismissed for his first ODI golden duck against Pakistan.
De Villiers’s maiden first-ball exit came during South Africa’s shock 19-run loss.
Also nursing a hamstring injury suffered against Pakistan, De Villiers has managed just four runs in the tournament.
However, South Africa coach Russell Domingo expects his side’s talisman to come good.
“He’s a quality player, everybody gets first-ballers, it’s just taken him 200 games! I’ve got no concerns with AB de Villiers,” he said.
“He did pick up a bit of a niggle with his hamstring but the medical team will have a look at it.
“But I’m expecting a big performance from him on Sunday. He’s that type of player that when the team needs him he’ll turn it up, I’m sure about that.”