Cricket World Cup 2019: Virat Kohli hints at unleashing mystery bowler against Blackcaps

Indian captain Virat Kolhi was full of confidence on the eve of his team's Cricket World Cup semi-final against the Blackcaps at Old Trafford, joking that he might have to bowl Kane Williamson out again.

Much has been made in the build-up about how the showdown will be a repeat of the semi-finals of the 2008 U19 World Cup, in which a Kohli-led India defeated a Williamson-captained New Zealand at Kuala Lumpur.        

In that match 11 years ago, Kolhi claimed the prized wicket of Williamson, as India claimed a three-wicket win by the Duckworth-Lewis method.

During the World Cup, India have used a five-prong bowling attack that has brought plenty of success, but Kohli hinted he might have to bowl again, after being reminded he was the one to dismiss the Kiwi skipper. 

"We played with five bowling options, because it gives more depth in batting," he said. "You just told me I got Kane [Williamson] out, so I can bowl anytime.

"I am quite lethal - as long as I don't slip on the pitch [I can bowl]."

According to ESPN CricInfo, the last time the 30-year-old bowled in an ODI match was in 2017 against Sri Lanka, while - ironically - his last wicket was then-Blackcaps captain Brendon McCullum in 2014.

Kohli said he remembered seeing Williamson play for the first time in 2007 and he knew then the Kiwi would be a special player.

"In an U19 test match, he played a shot off one of our fast bowlers off the back foot. I remember fielding in the slips and telling someone that I have never seen someone playing a shot like that.   

"We always knew he had the special ability to go all the way. Now he's controlling the tempo of the game for NZ in every game he plays."

India have a 3-3 record in World Cup semis, while New Zealand have lost six and won just once - at the 2015 tournament against South Africa.

Kohli said his team was used to playing under immense pressure in crucial matches, which he believed would help them.

"The Indian team always carries a lot of pressure and expectation wherever we play, and we are quite used to that over the years, to be honest.

"I think we are better equipped to react well in these situations, because we know what these kind of games and our fan base and the expectations brings, so I think disappointment is equal on either side.

"Our aim and our focus is obviously on winning, and as I said, whichever team plays better will win."

Despite being the best-ranked ODI batsman in the world, Kohli has yet to hit a century during the World Cup, mainly due to Rohit Sharma's dominance atop the order.

Opener Sharma became the first batsman to hit five centuries in a single World Cup and is the tournament's leading scorer with 647 runs heading into the knockout stages.              

Kohli has no problems playing second fiddle to Sharma.

"It's been a different kind of role I have played in this World Cup.

"It's great that Rohit has been scoring so consistently, which means that coming in the later half of the innings, you have to play a different role, which is controlling the middle overs and letting guys like Hardik [Pandya], Kedar [Jadhav], MS [Dhoni] and Rishabh [Pant] express themselves.

"I've understood that roles can vary a lot in one-day cricket, depending on the time you step in to bat, and I've been very happy holding one end and letting other guys express themselves striking at 150-160 and even 200."     


Join us at 9:30pm Tuesday for live updates of the Blackcaps v India Cricket World Cup semi-final