Dhoni and Yuvraj our strongest pillars, says Kohli before leaving for Champions Trophy

By: Aritra Mukherjee
Updated: 24 May 2017 05:13 PM
Photo: BCCI

New Delhi: Indian captain Virat Kohli heaped praise on Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, terming them as the strongest pillars of Indian cricket before taking the flight to England for the Champions Trophy starting on June 1.

Both Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni were far from their best in the recently concluded IPL. But Kohli believed that the two veterans can do wonders for Team India in English conditions if they play with a free mindset.

“They are our two strongest pillars. If they play with a positive mindset then the whole outlook of the team changes,” said Kohli, addressing the media before Champions Trophy.

Asked about the role Yuvraj and Dhoni will pay in the new look Indian limited overs side, Kohli said the duo will take the responsibility of guarding the Indian middle order.

“I don’t think I need to utilize them in the team. The kind of experience they bring to our middle order is unmatchable. They know how to build an innings and win games for the team,” said Kohli

Yuvraj Singh made a comeback to the Indian ODI set up against England earlier this year. The swashbuckling left hander amassed a career-best 150 in the second ODI. He put on a 256-run stand with Dhoni (134) for the sixth wicket and pushed India to 381 for six, rescuing the team from 25 for 3.

“The biggest take away from the last England series was that both of them played with freedom, played their natural game. That boosts the team’s confidence, their is less pressure on the top order,” added Kohli.

Yuvraj Singh will take part in the Champions Trophy after a gap of 11 long years as his last appearance in the tournament was way back in 2006.

Kohli believed his team would not ponder much about defending the title and will focus start afresh.

“The first challenge is not to think about the fact that we are the defending champions. We just wanted to enjoy ourselves when we went their last time and ended up winning the tournament. Our mindset would be similar this time, to go out there and enjoy. We became the No. 1 Test side with that mindset. So, now would like to carry that momentum into other formats.”

India will take on arch-rivals Pakistan in the tournament opener in Birmingham but Virat Kohli refused to believe there would be any extra pressure on his side because of that.

“Every time we are asked the same question. But for us cricketers things never change. Yes, an India-Pakistan match is entertaining for the fans. In the end it’s just a game of cricket. There are no special strategies. Playing for India is in itself a matter of pride. You can’t be too emotional against one particular opposition,” added Kohli.

Apart from Pakistan there is Sri Lanka and South Africa in India’s group and the top two teams from each group will advance to the knockout stages.

Before facing Pakistan India will play two warm-up games – first against New Zealand on May 28, and the second one against Bangladesh on May 30. Both the matches will be played in Oval.