Priority is to keep Indian cricket on top: Kohli

Georgetown (Guyana), Aug 7 (IANS) Leaving their World Cup debacle behind, Team India have started afresh and made a resounding statement with their clean sweep of the three-match T20I series against West Indies.

India, who remained at the top of the points table after the round-robin stage, had to face a shocking defeat to New Zealand in the semifinals and thus bowed out of the World Cup which was won by hosts England.

The next 50-over World Cup is scheduled to be held in 2023 in India. However, the team is not thinking about that and is just focusing on keeping the Indian cricket at the top in the world.

"It's too far away to think about 2023 World Cup. For us, the priority has been always is to be one of the most consistent sides in world cricket. And in the last three-four years we have been able to achieve that. We are the number two side in the world and there's a good reason for that. Sometimes, we have moved up to the top spot as well," said skipper Virat Kohli on Tuesday.

"You really start planning for the World Cup with 12 months to go. The priority is to keep Indian cricket at the top, play consistent cricket, go out there and win games and that's the reason why we are one of the top sides in the world," he added.

India defeated Windies by seven wickets to clinch the T20I series 3-0. Chasing 147, Kohli and Rishabh Pant struck brilliant half centuries as the Men in Blue went across the line with four balls to spare.

Pant, who threw his wicket away cheaply in the first two T20Is, rose to the occasion and proved his mettle, stitching a 106-run partnership with Kohli and remained unbeaten at 65.

Kohli praised the way Pant didn't let the disappointment of the first two matches come in his way and play a match-winning knock in the final match of the series.

"It was a really good performance from Pant in the series. For the first two games, he was disappointed that he didn't get any runs. He was playing really well, hitting the ball well but that's how T20 cricket goes. Sometimes, you don't have the rub of the green," said Kohli.

"But today, he made sure he applied his skills and backed himself to hit the big shots when required and played with the tempo of the innings which was required. The message from the batting coach for him was to finish the game and hit the winning runs. And he did that. That always gives you more confidence as a player when you return not out.

"So, we are really looking forward to see more performances from him like he did today. We all know that he's got tremendous talent and it's just about getting into his zone and doing this more often for the team," he added.

India and West Indies will now lock horns in the three-match ODI series beginning Thursday.

--IANS

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