Virat Kohli refuses to take anything for granted as India prepare to face depleted Australia

India start as big favorites to beat Australia across all three formats during their tour Down Under. (AFP)
Updated 20 November 2018
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Virat Kohli refuses to take anything for granted as India prepare to face depleted Australia

  • Australia are still without Steve Smith and David Warner following their bans for ball tampering.
  • Kohli, however, refuses to accept India are huge favorites to beat the hosts.

SYDNEY: India captain Virat Kohli insisted Australia still have the quality to upset his side in their Twenty20 series and said his team will be focusing on the “little things” to come out on top.
The visitors open their tour with the first of three T20s in Brisbane today ahead of four Tests and three one-dayers that will keep them in Australia until late January.
In the short format, they have been by far the better team in recent times. Australia have also been weakened by ball-tampering bans to key batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner.
“We definitely have a very strong side,” said Kohli, who last month became the fastest to reach 10,000 runs in one-day internationals, breaking Sachin Tendulkar’s record.
“When we step on the field we have 11 individuals striving for excellence, they want to be the best they can.
“Those are the dynamics that have allowed us to play the cricket that we are and hopefully we can build on that.”
Despite Australia being without Smith and Warner — who will need to serve their full 12-month bans for ball-tampering, after Cricket Australia Tuesday ruled out any reductions — Kohli is adamant the hosts still pose a big threat.
“There’s no denying the quality they have in their side,” he said.
“They still have world-class cricketers, though missing out on two of the world’s best batsmen in not ideal for any team.
“But the guys they have, especially in the limited-overs game, can do damage at any point in time. You can never underestimate any side. We’re won’t be taking anything for granted.”
India arrived in Australia on the back of a home thrashing of the West Indies, but their form traditionally is more fragile on the road.
Kohli said they planned to “do the little things right so we can win more situations than the opposition.”
“We definitely believe we have the quality to win, but it will boil down to how we think in each moment in every game we play.”
Australia were beaten in both white-ball formats by South Africa in recent weeks, but skipper Aaron Finch is confident they can turn their fortunes around with a more assertive approach.
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for us to come out and express ourselves, play some great attacking cricket, take the game on and really try and take it to India,” he said Tuesday.
And Finch believes they are close to winning their first series since new coach Justin Langer took over, after Darren Lehmann stepped down following the tampering row.
“India are in great form but we feel as though we’ve been building really nicely without getting results going our way so far,” he said.


Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

Updated 21 February 2019
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Simona Halep positive despite Dubai defeat by Belinda Bencic

  • Former world No.1 blames three-set loss on tiredness after nine matches in 13 days.
  • Halep has high hopes for the rest of 2019, saying her game is in good shape.

LONDON: Simona Halep is still certain a good year lies in store for her despite losing to Belinda Bencic in the Dubai quarterfinals.
The Romanian former world No. 1 was the favorite to win her second title in the emirate but ran out of steam as her Swiss opponent ran out 4-6, 6-4, 6-2 winner.
It was Halep’s ninth match in just 13 days and she admitted tiredness had caught up with her.
“It was really difficult physically. I was tired,” the world No. 2 said.

Bencic came from a set down to beat the favorite in the last-eight encounter in Dubai. (AFP) 


“After the second set, I felt like I’m getting cramping a little bit. It’s normal. I was sweating a lot.”
While, her fatigue was clear for all to see, Halep was not using it as an excuse, admitting Bencic, who has now beaten her in two of their three matches, was the deserved winner.
“Yeah, she played well. She played very well. In the end, she was a little bit stronger,” the Romanian said.
Having lost in the Qatar final last weekend and failed to make the last-four in Dubai you might think Halep would be disappointed with her Middle East stint. She was, however, far from glum and revealed she is looking forward to landing more titles to add to her collection during the rest of the year.

Cheerio from Halep after her defeat to the Swiss. (AFP) 


“I think were three good weeks. Tough weeks. A lot of tension, a lot of pressure. Also the Fed Cup,” she said.
“I take only positive things. I had great matches. My level is good. Physically also I’m good. But day by day I had to play, so is not easy.
“I’m confident for the next tournaments.”