A lot of the talk ahead of the Champions Trophy semi-final between India and Bangladesh has surrounded the supposed rivalry between the two sides. There is no doubting that there is one between the fans of the two teams on social media. There are comment-wars and memes created and retaliated to, some have even taken an offence to all of it. It doesn’t help that these flames have been fanned by some dubious tweets and statements from people involved.
The players remain steadfast in defiance of any such thing hampering their thoughts ahead of the game.
“It’s been 24 months,” said Virat Kohli when asked about the controversies after the 2015 World Cup. “I seriously don’t think that anyone is thinking about that game. We’ve had so many matches against each other since then, and we are certainly not going out to prove a point to anyone. We just want to play good cricket as a side. Our opposition could be anyone. We’re not really thinking about what’s happened in the past or things that go on at the international level. We’re certainly not thinking about any of that.”
The India captain was also full of admiration for the way Bangladesh have progressed as a cricket team to stand at this stage. “It’s no surprise anymore to anyone that they are really well, and they’ve really improved their cricket, and it’s a credit to their setup and the kind of players they have now who are taking more responsibility, and they are a very dangerous side on their day, and everyone realises that.
“You know, no one takes any opposition for granted, and Bangladesh have taken huge strides. They themselves say that in the last couple years… in the World Cup 2015 they were really, really good. Yeah, you can never take any opposition for granted. I would say that, and credit goes to them for doing what they are doing with their cricket over the last couple of years.
“They are in the top-eight sides in the world, so obviously they are playing really good cricket and they are doing a lot of things right to be in that position. And as I said, they have cricketers who are skilled, who are committed to play for Bangladesh and play with a lot of passion, and they’re really keen to win a lot of games at this level, and that shows in their attitude.
“And even the other day [against New Zealand], I thought they were outstanding the way they applied themselves and chased the total down and they showed a lot of composure and patience, and that is always a sign of a side that is mature now, that knows how to win matches from difficult situations. So yeah, they are a very competitive side,” said Kohli.
As Bangladesh get ready to face what is probably the most important game for many players, there is a unanimous conclusion in the air that India start as favourites. But it’s only recently that India were bitten by an ‘underdog’ in the tournament and Kohli was adamant in thought that they won’t be taking Bangladesh easy.
“Yeah, we’ve been in these kind of games before quite a few times, but there are no guarantees in this sport. As we’ve seen in the league stages, as well, a lot of teams have surprised the opposition, and we’re certainly not taking anything for granted. We will use whatever momentum we’ve gained in this tournament to execute what we want to. We’re not going to go according to past results and what we’ve done in the past tournaments. Going into a big game like this, we’re going to treat it as how we treated the last game, and our mindset does not differ,” he said.
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