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India captain Kohli to show Rabada respect despite recent IPL spat

Kohli and the South Africa bowler will go head to head at Southampton on Wednesday.

India captain Virat Kohli insists he will show South Africa bowler Kagiso Rabada respect after their recent spat (Andrew Boyers/Pool/PA)
India captain Virat Kohli insists he will show South Africa bowler Kagiso Rabada respect after their recent spat (Andrew Boyers/Pool/PA)

Virat Kohli has pledged to treat Kagiso Rabada with respect after the South African bowler branded him “immature”.

India launch their World Cup bid by facing beleaguered South Africa in Southampton on Wednesday, with Rabada’s combative words ringing in opposition captain Kohli’s ears.

Rabada criticised Kohli as childish in a recent Indian Premier League on-field spat – but India’s talisman captain refused to bite back, instead pledging to discuss the matter with the Proteas paceman personally.

Kohli’s move to treat Rabada’s aggression with kindness entirely deflated any tactic to unsettle the superstar batsman, with the 30-year-old India skipper unflappable ahead of Wednesday’s tournament bow.

“Well I’ve played against Kagiso many times, and if anything needs to be discussed we can discuss it man to man,” said Kohli.

“Whether Ngidi plays or Steyn plays or not, Rabada is always going to be a world-class bowler and a threat to any side he plays against. On his day he can go through any team.

“In the past we have been able to handle it, but that’s only because we’ve been respectful of his skills but also assured of our batting.

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South Africa bowler Kagiso Rabada, pictured, and Kohli had an on-field spat during the Indian Premier League (Nigel French/PA)

“You have to be respectful but have that self-belief in yourself as well. And that balance will be very crucial. We always need to respect that and find ways of scoring against him.”

India will doubtless be eyeing the title despite England entering the tournament as favourites.

Kohli admitted India could stand to benefit from their delayed start to the competition, as they watched and learned from the opening tranche of matches.

He insisted India will be in no mood to chase the game, instead backing the strength of their line-up.

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Kohli hit only 18 during India’s World Cup warm-up defeat to New Zealand (Nigel French/PA)

“There’s a lot to learn in terms of composure,” said Kohli. The teams that have been more composed have been winning games. The teams that have been forcing it or making bad decisions have suffered.

“That’s the kind of pressure the World Cup brings. As a batting group it will be very important to understand which guy is on a roll and the other guy has to play second fiddle.

“You need to be able to rotate strike and play in a partnership. If you try to accelerate too much teams are losing four or five wickets in a bunch.

“The teams that play more solid, percentage cricket will tend to succeed.”

India’s skipper remained composed and assured as he insisted he can shoulder the burden of expectation to blast big scores every time he walks to the crease.

“If you perform for a long time then expectation is always there,” said Kohli.

“I’ve understood how to go along with the expectation. You have to accept the expectation is going to be there.

“When you walk down to bat people are going to say ‘We need a hundred’ and things like that.

“Accepting that is just part of the process for me now. It’s a long tournament, you’re playing every side once. You have to think on your feet and adapt quickly.

“You have to be precise, think on your feet, make good decisions and stay ahead of the eight ball. From that point of view, it’s a big challenge.”

PA

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