India vice-captain KL Rahul backed elite batsman Virat Kohli ahead of the start of their Asia Cup 2022 campaign on Friday, implying that the former captain was unconcerned about the criticism from the outside.
India and Pakistan are scheduled to meet for the first time since India suffered a humiliating 10-wicket loss to Pakistan in the World Cup in October 2021, their first loss to Pakistan in any World Cup.
As a result, many consider that the rivalry between the two teams has increased, especially in light of the fact that they will meet in the second match of the 2022 Asia Cup.
Kohli's return to action in this game marks his first appearance in over a month. He last played an international match on July 17 in England before being rested for the West Indies and Zimbabwe series.
In response to criticism of Kohli, Rahul said in a statement that he would simply dismiss it while noting that everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
“We don’t really give much importance to the comments," he asserted.
"Everyone has their own opinion but it doesn’t really affect a player, especially a world-class player like Virat obviously be affected by what people are saying on the outside."
Rahul continued by saying that Kohli is improving his skills and that he is driven to help India win games.
“He’s had a little bit of a break and he’s working on his game," he continued.
"The standards that he has set for himself, he has not been able to get but I am sure he is hungry as well to win matches for the country. That’s what he has done throughout his career — his mindset is always to win matches for his country.”
Rahul's expectations of Kohli
Rahul then added that the two of them are striving for the World Cup. In addition, Rahul also voiced his hopes for Kohli to regain his previous form
“I am sure that good things will happen and we all eagerly want Virat to get back the Virat Kohli form," Rahul said.
"We are not worried as an Indian team. Our aim is for the World Cup, if all batters are in good knick and as bowlers, they have played enough matches, that is our plan and that’s what we will look to do as a team,” he added.
Previously, Rahul missed all of this year's T20I action due to injuries and COVID-19, which forced the India opener to miss the majority of 2022.
He did make a comeback during the Zimbabwe tour, however, and received some much-needed playing time before the Asia Cup.
“Personally, going to Zimbabwe and playing three matches was good for recovery and seeing how my body has recovered,” Rahul remarked.
“You can spend time with the physio and in the nets but there’s nothing like playing a game on the ground. You’ll have to stay on the park for three and a half hours, especially playing an ODI and coming in to bat again,” he continued.
When asked about their experience in Zimbabwe, Rahul said that the tour gives him confidence in his body and allows him to judge his current form.
“It gives you a lot of confidence and being out in the middle is always the best way to assess your form," Rahul said. "Personally, it was really important that I went there. I can now enter this tournament feeling a little bit more confident about my body and focus on my skill."