Kohli has South Africa on his mind
Kohli has South Africa on his mind
prepare for their upcoming tour of South Africa.
The hosts laid out a seaming pitch for the opening Test in Kolkata, and Nagpur is also expected to favor the fast bowlers in the second Test starting today.
The three Sri Lanka Tests come before India embark on a three-Test tour of South Africa, where they have never won a Test series, in the new year.
Kohli confirmed reports that team management had ordered fast pitches, instead of the traditional spin-friendly tracks, to get used to South Africa-style conditions.
“Yes, because unfortunately we get only two days before we fly to South Africa after this series is over,” the India skipper said. “We have no choice but to be in game situations and think of what’s coming ahead for us. As usual cramped for time.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumar led an inspired Indian pace attack that took all of the 17 Sri Lankan wickets that fell during the rain-hit first Test, which ended in a draw.
Meanwhile, Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal backed spinner Rangana Herath to come good in Nagpur, after he went wicketless in Kolkata.
“This looks a good Test pitch,” Chandimal said. “Herath is a wily old fox. On these wickets he can be handy.”
Mohamed Salah viewing Champions League final against Real Madrid as ‘just another match’
- The Egyptian ace has been the key man in Liverpool’s march to Saturday’s showdown in Kiev against Real Madrid
- “Every match is different, this is my first Champions League final so I am very excited. It is of course a very important game”
He may be about to play in the biggest match of his life, but Mohamed Salah is going to approach the Champions League final as if it is just another game.
The Egyptian ace has been the key man in Liverpool’s march to Saturday’s showdown in Kiev against Real Madrid, scoring 11 goals and setting up a further four. Added to that has been his dynamic domestic form with the 25-year-old’s 32 LePremier ague strikes setting a new record and helping him land a host of awards, among them the coveted PFA Player of the Year gong.
All that has piled the pressure on Salah ahead of the final. But if you thought that would get to him then think again, with the Liverpool talisman claiming he is going into the clash as he would any other match.
“I cannot put more pressure on myself so I just play a normal game for me,” Salah said at a press conference announcing he is the new DHL brand ambassador for the MENA region.
“Of course, it is different, it’s the final of the Champions League, but you have to take it easy, relax and enjoy the game.
“Every match is different, this is my first Champions League final so I am very excited. It is of course a very important game.
“But I am trying not to take it too seriously and not put myself under too much pressure, both for me as an individual and the team as a whole.”
It should perhaps come as no surprise to hear the Liverpool and Egypt star talk about the biggest game in club football in such understated terms. Salah’s 44 goals have all come with the kind of smile on his face which suggests he is playing with a freedom normally associated with a kid having a kickabout with his mates in the park. Added to that, Liverpool’s progression to the final has come virtue of a devil-may-care attitude that hints that passion rather than pressure is what has been on their mind every time they walk onto the pitch.
That philosophy has been instilled to them by their coach Jurgen Klopp. The German is revered as much by the players as by Liverpool’s fans and Salah is in no doubt as to how important he has been to his form and the team’s remarkable Champions League run.
“From day one we are friends, he treats me like a friend,” Salah said of Klopp.
“We are very close to each other but still he’s the coach and I am a player. He is a great man and as a coach you can see everyone loves him.”
Standing in the way of Salah and Co. from lifting Liverpool’s sixth European Cup are Real Madrid. While the Spanish giants have not hit the heights of previous campaigns, they stand on the verge of a third Champions League crown in a row, and, with Cristiano Ronaldo in fine form, will provide the Reds’ toughest test yet.
Such has been the heights he has hit this season that Salah has often been compared to Lionel Messi and Ronaldo, and touted to become the first player since 2007 other than that duo to win the Ballon d’Or. It is a comparison he has sought to distance himself from and once again he downplayed any idea that the final was a case of him verses the Portuguese star.
“He is a top-level player, but as he said he plays with his right foot and I play with my left,” Salah said.
“We are both focused on playing well in the final and trying to win it for our teams. All I can do is try hard and focus on doing well for Liverpool.
“I want to get to a higher and higher level, I am hoping to do well in the final and we are going to go there to do well in the final and to try and claim the trophy.”