Kohli bans distractions before Champions Trophy final

(BBC) Virat Kohli says restricting time spent on social media is the biggest reason for his and India’s form as they prepare for a Champions Trophy final against Pakistan expected to be watched by more than one billion people.

The defending champions have hammered Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh en route to the final, with captain Kohli averaging 253 from four innings.

The key, Kohli says, is to avoid negativity and distractions on social media where he has a fanbase of 65.6 million people across his Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

“Honestly, it sounds funny, but it’s so important to stay away from those things, to connect to things that matter,” said Kohli, 28.

“It’s tough, but you have to make that sort of effort to stay in a good zone and a good mindset.

“If you’re too distracted listening to too many suggestions or players or criticism, you can’t focus on what you need to think as a sportsman first to be able to lead the team and then help the others in the team, as well.

“To be able to maintain that balance nicely has been a good thing for me.”

Kohli has been in sublime form in the Champions Trophy – with not-out scores of 81, 76 and 96 in India’s three victories more than compensating for a duck in defeat by Sri Lanka – so how will Pakistan stop the number one batsman in the world?

Former England spin bowler Graeme Swann believes the right-hander has no “glaring weakness” – particularly in one-day cricket.

“He’s easily the best batsman to watch in the world,” Swann told BBC Sport. “I found him to be two different animals – in one-day cricket he looked to attack and to dominate and such is his prowess against the white ball he’d get away with it.

“With the red ball, he was more circumspect and played more traditional Test innings where he waited for the bad ball so I had more success against him.

“He’s very competitive – which I like – and I enjoy him as captain. He demands excellence. He wants everyone to meet his high standards. I think he’s the best player in the world.”

James Taylor, another former England player, believes the key is to strike early.

“He can be very aggressive and dominant in the field as a captain but when I played against him he was quiet and sedate,” said Taylor.

“That’s because we were beating them and he didn’t score many runs which quite often brings out the emotion and aggression in people. It was the total opposite with Virat.

“The channel to bowl at Virat, especially with the red ball, was fifth stump and try to nick him off. His record is phenomenal though. He has all the shots in the book and the temperament to become an all-time great. He’s a global superstar.”

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur confirmed pace bowler Mohammad Amir is fit to play at The Oval after missing the semi-final against England with back spasms.

It is Pakistan’s first appearance in a 50-over global final since the 1999 World Cup in England – where they were beaten by Australia – and Arthur said it would mean a lot to the country if they won.

Pakistan have not played a Test match at home since 2009 because of security issues and South Africa-born Arthur said: “I just know it’ll mean a massive amount to them. The guys, again, have been special.

“I can’t praise them enough. For us it’ll just be almost a clincher for us in terms of the brand of cricket we want to play, where we want to take the team.”

The 1992 World Cup winners had the lowest seed of eighth before the event, but Arthur added: “We came here very, very firmly of the opinion that we wanted to come here and win it.”