Birmingham: India skipper Virat Kohli hailed the performance of his bowlers in the virtual quarter-final clash against South Africa, which the Men in Blue won by a comprehensive margin of eight wickets to seal their place in the semi-final at Edgbaston on Sunday.
Batting first, the Proteas choked once again in a do or die clash and collapsed to a paltry 191 runs, which was chased down easily by India with 12 overs to spare. In the post match press conference, Kohli said that they wanted to finish the South African innings as early as possible and the bowlers produced a stunning display to make that happen.
"It was a good toss to win in the first place. The wicket didn't change much and we thought the wicket was really good to bat on. Our bowlers bowled really well and the fielders backed it up as well. I would say we had a complete performance in the field. We grabbed our opportunities and that helped us restrict such a strong batting line-up to 190," said Kohli.
"Luckily we got their big strikers out early, and that really helps to close the innings off. Because in the end, if you get a 50, 60-run partnership, the opposition is still in the game and we didn't want that to happen."
"So yeah, I mean, the bowlers, stuck to their lines and got us the breakthroughs when we required and that really helps when you chase that kind of a total, now you can take your time because the bowlers have done such a good job," said Kohli.
Calling it as their best performance of the tournament, Kohli hailed his troops and said that they stepped upto the plate when it mattered the most.
"This is probably our best game that we have played so far in this tournament and I am really delighted with the way the boys turned up today. We really like this stadium and we really like that pitch as well. It suits the kind of cricket we play," the Indian skipper said.
"But the pressure was built by the bowlers, and that I think resulted in, you know, those breakthroughs that we got on the field. It's important to grab those opportunities, as well.
You know, thinking about how we wanted to improve our fielding, I think this was something that we required, this kind of a fielding performance. And before going out, we had a chat in the huddle that I wanted to see everyone's intensity go up, and that a conscious effort we have to make individually in such a big game, to start well," he added.
Kohli also revealed what he said to Jasprit Bumrah before the start of the innings that really spurred him on. Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar produced a scintillating display of pace bowling early on in the innings which helped India in keeping the run-rate down.
"He's (Bumrah) an attacking bowler, and all I said was, you know, express yourself, go for wickets. If you want to york people in the knee, well, do it. If you want to bounce people, do it. This is your opportunity. The new ball does quite a bit, and you can get us a couple of breakthroughs."
"His intention was to pick up wickets and that's where we were able to create pressure from both ends. I mean, Bumrah as you know, is always very consistent, but I think the way Bumrah bowled, as well, really tightened things from both ends. And then 30-odd runs in ten overs was an outstanding start for us, and then we could build on from there and get those important breakthroughs," Kohli said.
Regarding his own match-winning knock, Kohli said that he wanted to play the role of the finisher as that is what the team required. The Indian captain also hailed Shikhar Dhawan for his knock of 78. With the help of his latest scintillating knock, Dhawan also became the leading run-scorer of the tournament.
"It was important for someone to bat till the end and luckily I could do the job for the team. But Shikhar's intent was outstanding - getting the boundaries when required. I think if you a share a 100 partnership in a 190 chase, more or less you finish games convincingly. Even Yuvi wanted to finish the game along with me to take some confidence to the semis," said Kohli.
However, Kohli also warned his teammates that they cannot become complacent and will have to keep performing like this if they want to win the tournament.
"There's always room for improvement and you don't want to sit on your laurels and be complacent. That's not what we believe in. Any game of cricket you play, whether you win or lose, there is always something to learn," said Kohli.