With the ICC ODI World Cup getting underway in England and Wales in less than a week from now, the skippers of the 10 participating teams fighting for the biggest glory in 50-over cricket were all asked to pick one player from another team to fit into their own playing XI during the captains’ press conference in London on Thursday.
The comments from the captains made for some interesting read and showed what according to them, they lack in their squad as they look to battle it out and win the showpiece event.
While host captain Eoin Morgan picked Australia’s assistant coach Ricky Ponting, India captain Virat Kohli went for his South African counterpart Faf du Plessis. Pakistan skipper Safaraz Ahmed went for the swashbuckling Jos Buttler while Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza picked the run-machine Kohli.
For defending champions Australia, skipper Aaron Finch didn’t seem too happy with his pacers and settled for Kagiso Rabada of South Africa, while Faf himself decided to pick not one, but three in Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins of Australia and Afghan spinner Rashid Khan.
Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne went with English all-rounder Ben Stokes while New Zealand captain Kane Williamson also went for Rashid Khan. Interestingly, while the West Indies skipper Jason Holder said that he was happy with his team, his Afghan counterpart Gulbadin Naib said it all depends on the day.
Moving on, Kohli was asked about the high-voltage clash between India and Pakistan and the skipper made his position clear by saying that it was just another game when the players walk onto the field.
“I think India-Pakistan is always a much anticipated match. We keep saying again and again. If you ask the players, it’s very different from how the fans feel. Yes, we feel the anticipation and excitement when we enter the stadium. But as soon as you enter the field, it’s very professional.
“It’s just another game you need to win as a team. Yes, it brings pressure because the atmosphere in the stadium is very different. But as soon as we enter the ground, it’s a game of cricket for all of us. We keep saying this again and again, but that’s the truth,” he said.
“In the World Cup, you first see the first four or five games you’re going to play. You play accordingly as a side. I don’t think we single out any team, all 10 teams are strong and can beat anyone. That makes the tournament exciting. If we play good cricket, we’ll be in a good position. Every team will want to focus on their skills,” the India skipper said.
Kohli also spoke about how seamer Jofra Archer could be the deciding factor for England in the World Cup.
“I think he’s going to be their X-factor because he holds a skill set that’s very different from anyone else. He can generate a lot of pace which can be very intimidating and you don’t really expect that because of his run-up. He’s a great athlete. He’s going to be exciting to watch in the World Cup and I’ll be watching him personally as well because whatever I’ve seen of him has been very very exciting,” he said.
When told that Archer wants his wicket, Kohli said it was nothing but a compliment. “Did he say that? I have no idea. That’s news to me. We don’t really focus on these things. You don’t focus on whether people want to get you out and things like that. Our focus is mainly on contributing to the team. I take a lot of pride in performing for the team and making impact performances.
“If Jofra said that, it’s a huge compliment because he himself is a world class bowler. The way he has come about in the IPL and while playing around the world in the last two years, there is a good reason for him to be fast-tracked to the World Cup,” the India skipper added.