He is quite proud of the “character and composure” that the Indian cricket team showed in the lost Test series against Australia but skipper Virat Kohli today made it clear that fighting spirit alone cannot make up for the side’s poor bowling, which needs to improve “big time”.
The Indians lost the four-match series 0-2, their chances hampered mostly by shoddy bowling which time and again allowed Australian batsmen off the hook.
“There are certain negatives which we want to improve on and at the international level there is a lot for us to improve seeing how the Australians bowled. We need to improve big time on that and if we can do that we are going to be a strong test team going forward,” Kohli said after fourth Test, which ended in a draw here today.
Asked if this was going to be his prerogative as Test skipper, Kohli said it was impossible to win matches without having the wherewithal to grab 20 wickets.
“To win Test matches you need to take 20 wickets. The reason we have done well at home is we have taken 20 wickets. The spinners have bowled really well. The fast bowlers know how to bowl in home conditions with reverse-swing and they have a fair idea of the areas they have to bowl in. But when we come out, they get too excited with the bounce,” he explained.
“Actually we need to figure out which are the best areas to bowl to each batsman and work on those areas. You run up to bowl and you can pitch six balls on the same spot. Only then can you set the right fields as the captain to set up a batsman and get him out. The consistency bit is something we really need to work on,” he stressed.
However, Kohli, who made his debut as Indian captain in this see8es following Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s shock retirement, was pleased with the overall performance.
“It has been very satisfying to see everyone stepping up in this match and showing a lot of character and composure. Australia bowled quite well if you see their economy rates in this innings and the first innings as well. They have bowled on the spot and we have had to play good cricket shots to score runs,” he said.
“The team showed a lot of character especially in the second innings when I thought the wicket wasn’t easy to bat on. The guys stood there and dug it out and pulled out a draw which is satisfying as of now. But still at a certain stage I thought we could go after the target and it was worth taking that risk. We are not coming back here for a while so there is no point not trying,” Kohli added.
Murali Vijay got a half-century before 40s from Kohli himself and Ajinkya Rahane made it appear as if India would go for an improbable chase in the last session. But a few wickets fell quickly and they had to settle for a draw.
“The first intention was to go for the target. But I think we didn’t get the kind of momentum we got in Adelaide because of the way Australia bowled. We couldn’t keep up with the asking rate and it eventually went up to six and a half in the end.
“When Vijay got a half century, we started feeling it might be possible if we do have wickets in hand in the last hour. But then he got out, yet me and Ajinkya played some shots and we felt we could cash in on the situation. But then I got out and we had to hang in there. Credit to Australia for bowling the way they did throughout the innings and made it very difficult for us,” he said.
“We pulled them till the end on three occasions in this series, two were losses and one was a draw which could have gone either way. I am really proud of the way we have played in this series,” he added.
Despite the series loss, it has been a great series for Kohli on the personal front as he scored more than 700 runs in four Tests, the highest for an Indian batsman against Australia in one series. This came on the back of a disastrous tour to England in the summer for the captain.
“I used to expect a lot out of myself and unnecessary put pressure on myself. Now I believe in myself. I don’t tell myself to go out there and get a century, I rather believe in myself that I will go out there and do well.”
“I think there is a slight difference in that which one needs to realise as in what works for an individual. For me I take the success and failure the same way so I really don’t get into what people are expecting of me,” Kohli said.
“This has been a great series for me personally. The crowd hasn’t been disrespectful. Last time around I had a couple of incidents but I think this time around I know they’ve booed me but they’ve liked the way the team has played. It’s been enjoyable to have a challenge of overcoming the whole Australian crowd and 11 Australian players who badly want to irritate me or get me out,” he added.
While the Test series has been lost 2-0, the focus will now immediately shift to the upcoming tri-series and the ensuing World Cup where India are defending champions. And it will also mark the return of Dhoni taking over the reins of the team once again.
“We’ve generally done well in ODI cricket because you know how to bowl within a time-span and you know how many overs you need to bowl.
In Tests you need more composure as you are not aware whether you have to bowl 20 overs or 25 or 15. So consistency counts a lot there. Even if we bowl five overs poorly, it changes the momentum of the game. We have done well in ODI cricket because we know where to bowl at what time,” Kohli signed off.