Virat Kohli: India captain feels ‘excitement & nerves’ before facing SA in Cricket World Cup

World Cup, South Africa v India; New Zealand v Bangladesh

Date: Wednesday, 5 June Venue: Hampshire Bowl & The Oval Starts: 10:30 & 13:30 BST Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, commentary and in-play clips on the BBC Sport website and app

India captain Virat Kohli says he feels “excitement, anticipation and nerves” before his side’s World Cup opener against South Africa on Wednesday.

India have started later than the other nine teams because of the Indian Premier League, which ended on 12 May.

They won the World Cup in 1983 and 2011 and reached the Champions Trophy final in England in 2017.

“If you say ‘World Cup’, it brings a different kind of feeling to your mind and heart,” Kohli said.

“I’m feeling excited, anticipation and a bit of nerves as well which is always good for any sportsman to have.

“It is really exciting me to have this kind of a challenge at this stage in my career.”

Their match in Southampton against South Africa – who have lost their first two games against England and Bangladesh respectively – begins at 10:30 BST.

New Zealand also play on Wednesday in a day-night match against Bangladesh at The Oval.

This will be 30-year-old Kohli’s third World Cup but his first as India captain, which he said is “a matter of great pride for me”.

“It is a different kind of responsibility. You need to be able to absorb a lot more,” he said.

“I’m just feeling grateful that I’m in this position to have the opportunity to lead my country in a tournament like the World Cup.”

Kohli added he would treat fast bowler Kagiso Rabada with respect after the South African called him “immature”.

Speaking to Cricinfo about an incident at the IPL, Rabada said of Kohli: “When you give it back to him, he gets angry. I don’t get the guy.

“Maybe he does it because it gets him going, but that comes across as very immature for me. He is a phenomenal player but he can’t take the abuse.”

Kohli said: “I’ve played against Kagiso many times, and if anything needs to be discussed we can discuss it man to man.

“In the past we have been able to handle it, but that’s only because we’ve been respectful of his skills but also assured of our batting.

South Africa have struggled for consistency in the early stages of the tournament and their bowling attack has been weakened by injuries.

Dale Steyn will return home with a long-standing shoulder injury and fellow bowler Lungi Ngidi will be out for at least a week with a hamstring problem.

Speaking about the injuries, captain Faf du Plessis said: “For myself, it’s really important to stay strong. The team will feed off my energy.

“They will look up to the leadership group in the team. But I’m at the top of that so it is important that I stay positive, I stay strong.”

Opening batsman Hashim Amla has been cleared to play after recovering from a blow to the head by England’s Jofra Archer in the first match of the tournament.

New Zealand and Bangladesh begin their match at 13:30 BST.

The Blackcaps have won eight of their past 10 ODIs against Bangladesh, but they were beaten by them at the Champions Trophy in Cardiff two years ago.

Both teams began their campaigns with a win – New Zealand thrashed Sri Lanka by 10 wickets and Bangladesh made their highest one-day total in their 21-run win over South Africa.

Wicketkeeper Tom Latham said New Zealand would be unchanged for Wednesday’s match.

“I think the way we played in the last game bodes a lot of confidence for the group,” Latham added.

“The bowlers challenged Sri Lanka much from ball one, and I’m sure the same side is looking to hopefully repeat that tomorrow.”