Azhar Ali had dropped Kohli off the third ball of the third over when the India captain slashed at one outside the off-stump, only for Azhar to drop a dolly. But Amir did not let frustration get the better of him and came back to dismiss Kohli off the very next ball, this time caught by Sahdab Khan at point of a leading edge. And the pacer says that his heart was in his mouth when Azhar dropped Kohli.
“When Kohli was dropped, I thought half the game was gone to be honest. Because he is the kind of batsman if you give him a chance, he won’t score less than hundred. Ninety-percent of the time, you give him a chance, he gets a hundred. Recently against New Zealand, they dropped him on 15 or 20 and he scored a hundred. He doesn’t give you a second chance,” Amir told ESPNCricinfo.
“I remembered Fakhar [Zaman] and how he had been out on a no-ball and had then scored a hundred. That kind of thing happens when you are walking back, it came to me immediately and I thought I hope this doesn’t happen to us now,” he added.
Speaking about the very next ball when Amir finally dismissed Kohli, the bowler said: “In my mind, I thought he’ll be ready for my inswinger, because the previous ball had been an outswinger. So I thought, 80-90% he would be ready for an inswinger. But I wanted to bowl at him in the same area, and move it away again. If you look at the clips of it, you can see he shaped to play it to leg, he moved to play it to on [side], thinking I was going to bring it in. My thinking was that if I bowl again in the same area, the same ball going away, he might go to play it thinking it is coming in, and edge it to slip again, but it went with the angle to point.”
The admiration between Kohli and Amir is mutual and the pacer makes no bones about the fact that the India skipper is one of the best chasers in world cricket, if not the best.
“Everybody knows if you get Kohli, India is 50% out of the game. Till he is at the crease, India’s chances of winning are 70-80%. If you look at his chasing ratio, he is at the top of the world. He chases well, he performs well under pressure. So our plan was to get their top order – [Shikhar] Dhawan, [Rohit] Sharma, Kohli, the guys who were scoring the runs in the tournament. My plan was that I didn’t want to save runs, I wanted to take wickets. If we could get one or two from the top, we could win the match,” he said.
While bowlers nowadays look to stem the flow of runs in the shorter formats, Amir said that he was keen on picking wickets as the track wasn’t meant to stop the scoring rate.
“The pitch was the kind where you couldn’t stop the runs. Even after they were six down, [Hardik] Pandya was hitting so big – the wicket was that flat. You couldn’t stop the runs flowing, you could only take wickets to win the game,” he said.
“My plan in the first spell was that even if I gave away 35-40 runs in the first five but took two wickets, then we were in the game. So the target was to get these two or three guys out,” he added.
2017 Champions TrophyAzhar AliChampions trophychampions trophy 2017Champions Trophy EnglandFakhar ZamanMohammad Amirrohit sharmashikhat dhawanvirat kohli
First Published: November 21, 2017, 8:41 AM IST