Virat Kohli has established himself as one of the best batsmen of his generation but the India captain said he felt like an amateur playing next to free-scoring team mate Yuvraj Singh in Sunday’s Champions Trophy victory over Pakistan.
India’s top four batsmen helped themselves to fifties but none of them looked as fluent as Yuvraj, whose quickfire 53 off 32 balls enhanced his reputation as one of the sweetest timers of the ball.
“I felt like a club batsman while playing alongside ‘Yuvi’, the way he was hitting the ball,” Kohli said after India kicked off their title defence with a comprehensive victory over their arch-rivals.
A 136-run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan laid the foundation for a big total but Kohli appeared to struggle for momentum in the rain-interrupted match.
But Yuvraj’s unbridled aggression lifted the pressure on Kohli, who accelerated towards the end to remain not out on 81 off 68 balls.
“The way he batted, I think it was the game-changing innings to be honest. That gave all of us the confidence to start striking the ball well,” Kohli said of Yuvraj, who missed both India’s warm-up games with viral fever.
“The way he batted was the way only he can strike the ball, hitting low full tosses for fours and sixes, and even digging out yorkers for fours – he was outstanding.”
It was only after he had been dropped on 43 that Kohli stepped on the gas and clobbered three sixes.
“I could not get the big ones because it was tricky,” the 28-year-old said of the sluggish phase.
“We went off about four times and we came back in. So a player who likes to play a long innings and usually plays like that for the time, it becomes very difficult to find momentum every time you come back.”
India meet Sri Lanka in their next Group B match at the Oval on Thursday.