Southampton: India captain Virat Kohli admitted that his team made to work extremely hard by Afghanistan and things didn't go as per plan during their narrow 11-run win in their fifth World Cup match in Southampton.
On Saturday, the Indian batting line-up, consisting of the heavyweights like Rohit Sharma, MS Dhoni and Kohli, was seen struggling against the Afghan bowlers, especially the spinners. India had to fight for each and every run and were able to post a below-par total of 224 at the Ageas Bowl. It was a fine display of bowling by Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami that India managed to win a nervy battle as they bowled Afghanistan out for 213.
"This game was way more important to be honest as I said it didn't go as plan. But when things don't go your way, you need to show some character and bounce back and fight till the last ball and that shows the character of the team. We take a lot of heart from this win and take the confidence going forward," said Kohli after the match.
Talking about the Indian batting, Kohli said that it was a difficult wicket to bat on and run-scoring was not easy.
"We have been playing some good cricket and you expect yourself to win the toss and put big runs on the board and then you see the pitch being slow with three quality spinners in the opposition, I felt 270 should have been ideal and thought 250 would have been par," said Kohli.
"A team like Afghanistan who has a lot of talent doesn't let you play the way you want to play. Everyone had collective belief that we can win this one. They really put pressure on us in the middle overs and as I said our shot selection could have been a lot better," he added.
Afghanistan were always in the hunt during their chase and it required some special bowling spell from all the Indian bowlers to help their team earn their fourth win in the ongoing tournament.
"It's simple. We wanted to use him (Bumrah) smartly when the conditions allow. He gets a longer spell and because he can pick wickets in the spell he can get you quick wickets. He is the bowler who can do the damage at any stage of the innings and the opposition knows that as well. The communication was to finish him off at 49th over so that Shami has enough runs to defend in the last over and yeah the plan worked really well today. Keeping Chahal back also worked," said the Indian skipper.
The 32-year-old was also full of praise for Shami, who was included in the side for injured Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Shami returned with figures of 4/40 in his 9.5 overs, which included a hat-trick as well.
"All in all, the bowling performance was outstanding. Everyone's waiting for an opportunity and I think Shami was really good today, especially his first spell, he was making the ball do more than anyone else today. Vijay Shankar has come in and he showed intent and he is fielding really well. It's an honour for everyone to represent their country in the World Cup," said Kohli.
India will now take on West Indies on June 27 at the Old Trafford.