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T20 World Cup: Just wait and watch, he will perform, says Irfan Pathan on Virat Kohli

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New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) As India gear up for their first Super Eight stage game in the T20 World Cup 2024 against Afghanistan on Thursday in Barbados, the spotlight is firmly on the team's batting form, particularly that of former captain Virat Kohli. The New York group stage saw Indian batters struggle on tricky pitches, with Kohli managing only single-digit scores in all three matches. Yet, former cricketer Irfan Pathan remains unperturbed.

Speaking on Star Sports, Pathan exuded confidence in Kohli’s ability to rise to the occasion. "He knows how to stand up in big matches, isn't he? That's what makes him really, really special," Pathan asserted.

"He's a special player and I'm sure he's going to put his hand up and say OK, I'm going to do this for Team India. When the time comes, especially in the big matches, we have always seen Virat Kohli perform. Just wait and watch, the slog sweep will come out now. He will definitely use those shots because, look, those conditions in New York were challenging. But now things will be different, and you'll see a real Virat Kohli coming to the fore."

Pathan’s optimism isn't unfounded. Kohli has a history of delivering when it matters most, and his aggressive approach in the group stage, despite not yielding significant scores, hints at a strategic shift designed to unsettle bowlers early on. Fans, who have longed for this aggressive mindset reminiscent of his IPL exploits, may finally see it pay off against Afghanistan.

However, India's batting lineup faces a formidable spin challenge from Afghanistan, led by Rashid Khan, Noor Ahmad, and Mohammad Nabi.

Another former India player, Ambati Rayudu provided insights on how India might approach Rashid Khan, who hasn't been his lethal self post-surgery following the ODI World Cup 2023.

"I think the biggest challenge against Rashid Khan is trying to be too aggressive against him. That is where you land in trouble," Rayudu explained. "As a batter, you need to just wait for those loose balls and capitalize on them. After his injury, I don't think his pace is the same. So, you have enough time now, and people have been getting after Rashid. Also, the Indian batsmen know him very well."

Rayudu’s analysis suggests a more measured approach against Rashid, exploiting any dip in his pace and capitalising on rare errors. This strategic mindset, coupled with Kohli’s anticipated resurgence, could be crucial for India as they navigate Afghanistan’s spin threat.



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