Cape Town: Indian captain Virat Kohli didn’t mince his words and blamed the batsmen for the horrible showing as India crashed to a 72-run defeat against South Africa in the first Test at Cape Town on Monday.
“Taking 20 wickets to win a Test match is the priority. But if your batsmen don’t bat well, then it doesn’t matter. If you are not getting close to their total, it doesn’t matter if you have taken 20 wickets or not. We needed to bat better than what we did, To not having got the job done, it hurts and it should hurt because that’s the only way you can rectify the mistakes and come out with more motivation in the next match,” Kohli said, talking to the media after the game.
Kohli also said that it was important for the batsmen to show intent and attack.
“We lost four wickets in four overs. If you do that, it is very tough for you to come back and win Test matches from there. You want their bowlers to come back for second and third spells. We failed to do that and need to apply ourselves better. At the same time, we need to have intent because the kind of bowling attack they have. You can’t even be in a zone of not having intent and see off 35-40 overs. You need to find the perfect balance to do well in South Africa especially where there is more bounce. You cannot be casual at the same time you cannot have loose shots also,” he observed.
The skipper praised Hardik Pandya for showing great character in the 1st innings,
“Hardik Pandya showed great character in the first innings to get us to that total. We needed if not one big partnership, then every wicket adding 30-35 runs. We needed to show more character with the bat, there is no question about it,” he added.
Kohli also praised the Indian bowling attack which dismissed South Africa for 130 in the second innings and kept the visitors in the game.
“Definitely, we feel for the bowlers because they bowled their hearts out. A guy like Jasprit bowled beautifully in his first Test match, he troubled the batsmen a lot this morning. Mohammed Shami bowled his heart out, Bhuvi was good as well and not having done the job, they will also be gutted about it, at the same time as I said they know that can repeat that performance and if we get a lively wicket again, we can exploit those conditions,” said Kohli.
The Indian captain did not pay much heed to the criticism about going into the Test match without any warm-up game.
“We were very well-prepared. I don’t think we felt any lack of preparation. Even they got out for 130 in the second innings and they play here all the time. It was a wicket where things were happening every day. We let ourselves down with the bat, that’s for sure.”
Kohli termed Vernon Philander as a different kind of bowler and someone who posed a threat.
“Vernon is a different kind of bowler and he has different strengths. He will always pitch the ball in those areas in uncertainty and that’s his strength. He will also get the ball to seam both ways also,” Kohli said.
“You have to be at the top of your game every time you play against this bowling attack because of the variety as well. He bowled really well in the second innings when the ball wasn’t doing as much.
"At one stage when Rohit and I were playing, we felt pretty comfortable. We lost four wickets in four overs, which doesn’t really help the teams cause especially when you are chasing a low total,” he added.
The skipper also rated the Newlands track as an “outstanding” one.
“The pitch was outstanding. I really liked the kind of wicket this was. I think it was great for Test cricket – getting a result in four days despite losing a day’s play, it was definitely not one sided, both sides were in it at different stages.”
Rohit Picked Over Rahane Because of Form
Virat Kohli also gave reasoning behind the selection of Rohit Sharma over Ajinkya Rahane in the first Test and said it was because of form.
“Well, we decided to go on current form. Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka, These things can always be looked at in hindsight thinking what if or what if not. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion,” added Kohli.