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Kohli happy to play supporting role to dominant Sharma
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Kohli happy to play supporting role to dominant Sharma

Virat Kohli insists Rohit Sharma's red-hot form has led him to change his batting style to a middle-overs accumulator as India prepare to take on New Zealand for the semi-final clash on Tuesday at Old Trafford.

Sharma leads the run charts at the conclusion of the league phase after having achieved a record five centuries in a single World Cup edition.

India skipper Kohli, the world number one batsman in Tests and ODIs, has conjured five half-centuries thus far in the tournament though he has failed to register the three-digit mark.

Also Read: 'Everyone's in good nick' - Bumrah upbeat about India's prospects in semi-finals

"It's been a different kind of role that I have had to play in this World Cup. As the captain of the team I have been open to play any role that the team wants me to," Kohli told reporters on the eve of the game in Manchester.

"It's great that Rohit is playing so consistently which means that coming in the later half of the innings you have to play a different role, which is controlling and letting guys like Hardik (Pandya), Kedar (Jadhav) and MS (Dhoni) and Rishabh (Pant) come out and express themselves.

"I have understood that roles can vary a lot in one-day cricket depending on the time you step in to bat."

Sharma has been scoring prolifically at the top of the innings alongside makeshift opener KL Rahul, taking part in two 180-plus stands in the last three games.

Kohli said he was content with his muted yet effective contributions while Sharma took the spotlight courtesy his extended purple patch.

"I've been very happy with holding one end and letting guys express themselves, striking at 150, 160 or 200 if the team needs. I know that I can accelerate in the end," Kohli said.

"I hope he (Sharma) gets two more (centuries) so that we can win two more games because it's an outstanding achievement.

"He deserves all the credit and, according to me, he's at the moment the top ODI player in the world."

'We are used to handling pressure'

All World Cup games involving India have witnessed full-house stadiums with a sea of blue shirts populating the venues.

Kohli admitted the rising expectations and pressure each game brings tend to burden the side but refused his team's performance will be negatively affected as a consequence.

"Look, the Indian team always carry a lot of pressure whenever we play. We are used to that to be quite honest," said Kohli.

"We are better equipped to react in these situations because we know what these kind of games and our fan base and the expectations bring.

"The disappointment is equal on either side. Our aim and our focus is on winning."

Former India captain MS Dhoni recently turned 38 and this could mark his last appearance at a 50-over World Cup.

Kohli evaded a direct answer for a proper send-off to their experienced campaigner as he praised Dhoni's services to Indian cricket over the years.

"I am certainly not going to write anything down," Kohli said responding to questions pertaining a possible farewell for Dhoni.

"I am sure everyone, if you ask them about him, they have special things to say. Especially those who started their careers under him.

"When a person has done so much for the team, you have to appreciate and acknowledge what he has done for Indian cricket and how he has handled Indian cricket and taken respect for Indian cricket so high all over the world."