Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif has come down hard on Virat Kohli for giving his wicket away by playing a “half-hearted" shot in the 21-run loss to Australia in the ODI series decider in Chennai on Wednesday. He lamented the lack of “planning" by India’s batting mainstay.
“It was a chip shot. There was no planning. The ball had gone one bounce to (David) Warner in the previous over. He just survived there. If you want to hit a six, you have to commit. When Virat Kohli decides something, he does it with certainty. You cannot play a half-hearted shot. When the ball becomes soft, the ball doesn’t travel. You will not be able to hit the ball into gaps, you will have to put power there,” Kaif said in an interaction with Star Sports.
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Kohli was expected to play a long innings in Chennai, especially after he had got to a half-century. India were well on course to reach the target of 270 till the time Kohli was at the crease and even though India had lost a few wickets, there was no immediate cause for concern. However, Kohli fell to left-arm orthodox spinner Ashton Agar in the 36th over, having scored 54 runs off 72 balls. The beleaguered Suryakumar Yadav then came and went, bagging his third duck of the series and India kept on losing wickets are regular intervals to get allout for 248.
Legspinner Adam Zampa was wrecker-in-chief for the visitors, claiming four wickets for 45 runs in his 10 overs. Agar gave him good support with a couple of wickets. Earlier, Australia reached a competitive total on the back of a run-a-ball 47 by Mitchell Marsh, who had been in roaring form in the series.
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There was a lot of talk about the change in India’s batting order in the match with Axar Patel being sent in ahead of Suryakumar. Indian captain Rohit Sharma explained the move thus: “KL Rahul and Virat Kohli were batting. They were operating against a leggie and a left-arm spinner. Surya was slotted to actually go at 5. But, we thought that the ball was taking some turn and we did not want the right-handers to get stuck. Which is why we wanted a left-hander and Axar, being in the form he is, we wanted to just ask him to go in and bat the way he does and take the spinners on."
Veteran spinner Ravichandran Ashwin also defended India’s strategy, saying, “Why did they promote Axar? If they promoted Axar and he negated Zampa and Agar by taking them for 35 or 50 runs in 10 overs then the game was in India’s bag. So the intent was right but the run-out happened. The outcome wasn’t right."
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