ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Virat Kohli feels it's very hard to find a guy like Hardik Pandya [Watch Video]

Virat Kohli lauded Hardik Pandya's efforts and his skill in the team and the balance he brings into the side ahead of the India vs Sri Lanka game

India are to play Sri Lanka in their second game of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at Kennington Oval, London. Once again, he was calm and cool before India’s second game in the tournament as they will look to book a berth in the semi-finals. Despite Indian being a better team on paper and the recent performances, he gave Sri Lanka due respect and feels that they should not be taken lightly. Meanwhile, he praised Hardik Pandya for his all-round skills in the previous game as well.

When asked how does Kohli feel when opposition captain Angelo Mathews says “India is a hard team to beat’ he said, “We are playing good cricket, we certainly feel that as a team. I don’t think you should focus on the negatives when people are saying negative things about the team. Similarly, when you are playing well you should not look too much into praise factor as well. You certainly cannot take anyone lightly in this tournament.

On being asked do you handle someone like Hardik Pandya he said, “He is a real asset to the Indian cricket team. It’s very hard to find a guy who almost touches 140-case and who strikes the way he strikes the ball and he can bat through the innings as well. We saw that in the practice game. So if you give him 16-17 overs to bat then he can do that job for you as well. He has played a few good innings in First-Class circuit as well. It’s very hard to find people with that kind of ability. That comes naturally to Hardik, so you don’t need to motivate him further.

He went on to praise Pandya’s skills, he said, “People should appreciate his skill and what he brings to the table. If he gets the kind of support a player like him should get then he can be one of the most accomplished cricketers in times to come. Because he is a fit guy, he is superb in the field, super with the ball, brilliant with the bat.”

After previous game, you said we need to improve our fielding. Also, how do you rate the Sri Lankan team overall, he replied, “Sri Lanka, in ICC tournaments they have always done well. If you see their record over the years they have always been a side who reach semis and they reach finals as well. They have got talented players in the team, no doubt about that, they are a young team as well. They are going through a transitional phase but they have sort of players who can deliver match-winning performances on their day,”

“Apart from that, the fielding aspect I feel that guys wanted to bring in extra energy into the field. Creating momentum in the field they tend to get over-excited. There can be lapses as well. We have asked the guys to be ruthless.

Regarding Ashwin, as a player all champions have egos. What do you tell him when you leave him out? Kohli replied, “He is very professional. He understood the dynamic of the side that we picked in the last game and he was absolutely fine with it. We do have disagreements on the bowling plans but in this case, he is very professional. It’s a beautiful thing about him that he keeps the team first.”

He did not spill the beans over the team combination, he said, “We are gonna do it now at the practice session. We have not decided about it yet.”