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

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.


Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

Updated 12 August 2020

Atletico catching all the breaks in Champions League

  • A victory against Leipzig will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since 2017

LISBON: So far so good for Atletico Madrid in the quest for their first Champions League title.

Diego Simeone’s team have caught all the breaks going into the decisive final-eight tournament in Lisbon.

Old foes Real Madrid and Cristiano Ronaldo are gone. They drew Leipzig instead of a more traditional powerhouse for the quarterfinals. And their rival lost its top player after Timo Werner left for Chelsea. Even when things went wrong and the squad was hit by COVID-19, Atletico avoided the worst as only two players were infected and they could still make the trip to Portugal.

Things have been looking good for Simeone and his players.

A victory against Leipzig on Thursday will put Atletico back in the semifinals for the first time since it was eliminated by Ronaldo’s Madrid in the last four in 2017. Ronaldo and Madrid had defeated Atletico in the final in 2014 and 2016, and also ended the rival’s run in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Ronaldo again was Atletico’s nemesis last season after joining Juventus. Atletico lost to the Italian team in the round of 16 after Ronaldo scored a hat trick in the decisive second leg in Turin.

But this time Ronaldo and Juventus were eliminated by Lyon in the last 16, the same stage in which Madrid were knocked out of the tournament by Manchester City. Only two past champions are still left in the competition — Barcelona and Bayern Munich — and they play against each other in the opposite side of the draw, meaning Atletico could only meet one of them in the final.

Leipzig are a relative newcomer to the Champions League, having reached the group stage only twice. This is the first time they made it to the knockout round. They eliminated Tottenham in the round of 16, but now they won't count on top scorer Werner, who did not extend his contract by a few weeks to finish the season with the German club before moving to Chelsea.

Atletico stunned defending European champion Liverpool in the last 16, advancing after a 3-2 win in England.

“The game against Liverpool will go down in history and was one of the best we’ve had in a long time,” Atletico striker Diego Costa said. “It gave fans high expectations and we will give our best to try to meet those expectations. Hopefully we will play well and luck will stay on our side.”

Costa said Atletico will not take Leipzig lightly despite  the rival’s lack of experience in international competitions.

“They are very strong on the ball and know what they are about,” he said. “They have made it to the quarterfinals and have no pressure.”

There was a scare within Atletico this week when it announced two positive test results for COVID-19 among the group that was traveling to Lisbon. There were concerns that an outbreak within the club could have affected the team’s participation in the tournament in Portugal, but new tests showed that only Ángel Correa and Sime Vrsaljko were infected and the squad could travel to Lisbon.

Vrsaljko was not even going to play because he is nursing an injury, while Correa isn't among Atletico’s top stars even though he led the team in assists this season.

After coming agonizingly close recently, Atletico hope the breaks will keep going their way and that they  will finally get to lift the coveted European trophy.