Full credit to Kohli for believing in his ability: Shastri

Mumbai, March 30 (IANS) Indian cricket team director Ravi Shastri on Wednesday heaped praise on star batsman Virat Kohli for his consistent performances in the ongoing World Twenty20.

India face the West Indies in the second semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday.

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After a disappointing loss to New Zealand in their campaign opener, 2007 edition champions India came back strongly to outclass Pakistan, Bangladesh and Australia to enter the semis in style. Kohli scored a match-winning, unbeaten 82 runs off 51 to steer India to victory against Australia. He has scored 184 runs in four matches so far.

“Virat’s innings was outstanding. It is one of the best innings you will ever see in T20 cricket. I don’t know how long T20 cricket will be played, but when you consider the occasion and the pressure and the kind of shots he played, (it) was quite unbelievable. All cricketing shots and spread across the ground,” Shastri said.

“I had absolutely no doubt when I took on the job and seeing the form he was in and knowing fully well that he will be right on track. It was just a case of mind over matter. But you got to give him credit for really believing in him that to be right up there with the best and putting in the hard yards.

“Let me tell you no one trains harder than Virat. And if he is as successful as he has been over the last 18 months, credit must be given to him for that hard work and believing in his ability,” the former India captain said.

Speaking about his journey with the team after he took charge, the 53-year-old said, “It has been a long journey, like if I start telling you now, it will take at least a month to finish. We have a semi-final coming up but to cut it short it has been self-belief, that they are a good team, and they have not compromised on work ethics when it comes to hard work and the yards to go the distance.”

The worry for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led team will be the lack of consistency from openers Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and middle-order batsman Suresh Raina.

Despite getting starts, the trio have thrown away their wickets at crucial junctures to put their team on the backfoot.

“You need it in a big game like the semi-finals. I still believe we have played 70 percent to our ability in this tournament so there is 30 percent areas where we can improve. So let’s hope it happens tomorrow because in semi-finals you have to get your ‘A’ game,” said the former all-rounder.

“You can’t depend on 1-2 players, you need 6-7 to step up. It has not happened really in this tournament, let’s hope tomorrow it’s a start.”

Shastri also praised the Indian bowling line-up for a consistent show.

“I see no reason why they can’t do well here, I thought Bengaluru, Mohali were good surfaces. This has always been a good surface. So it is again, repeating again, what they have been doing and keeping things simple,” Shastri added.

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