After completing a record win outside the subcontinent, skipper Virat Kohli praised the entire team for the efforts and called for them to “start dominating Test matches”. However, he was level-headed in victory and pointed out areas that needed ironing out including wrapping up the tailenders.
India had a dream Test in the first of the four-match series – the five batsmen stepped up to put in a massive first innings score, the pacers showed up in the first innings, and the spinners took over in the second. Speaking about it, Kohli said, "If you look at it logically, that's probably the perfect finish, which every team looks for.
"The seamers usually dominate the first innings when you play away from home. The wicket tires out on day four and five. That's when the spinners come into play. In the first innings, spinners are taking couple of the breakthrough wickets. In the second innings, fast bowlers are doing this for you and then the spinners will open it up again.”
Kohli had vowed to bring aggressive intent to the team, and he did exactly that with his domineering display with the bat. The skipper said the learning phase for the team is over and they should look to dominate Tests from here on.
You know when you start off with five batsmen, obviously, you need to take more responsibility. I think they are all good enough to do that. As I've said before, we are not at a stage now where we need to come and improve. We should be ready enough in international cricket to start dominating Test matches and win those crucial situations and sessions. That's how we become a better team.
"If you think we are going to keep learning every series, learning every game, we will never get that hunger and that mindset to win games from difficult situations. We need to challenge ourselves a little bit, which this team has been willing to do and which is a wonderful sign. The way we finished the Test, it all panned out pretty nicely," he said.
While hailing Ashwin's bowling after the offie finished with 7 wickets, Kohli also praised Amit Mishra, who picked crucial wickets in both innings.
"Ashwin obviously bowled very well, and Mishra also bowled very well but didn't get wickets. But both kept the pressure on, and we talk about partnership bowling - that was a classic example, that the spinners didn't have to bowl that much in the first innings, but took the responsibility from the fast bowlers in the second innings, and did the job fully."
Kohli also talked about how Anil Kumble had made "special mention" to players whose performances did not catch the eye at first but were crucial.
"In the first innings four wickets each to Umesh [Yadav] and [Mohammed] Shami, but the way Ishant [Sharma] bowled and Mishi picking up those two wickets in the end also play an important role," Kohli said, when asked to elaborate on these contributions. "Otherwise, you have to play the guys who have bowled a bulk of the bowling and tire them out more for those final two wickets."
However, the 27-year-old also pointed out avenues for improvement for the squad despite the facile win.
"I think a couple or areas with the bat we can improve especially is not losing wickets close to the breaks," he said. "I think we did that three times. [Cheteshwar] Pujara was one, Shikhar [Dhawan] was the other, just before tea [on the first day], and then myself soon after lunch on day two.
See, these are the things, which if we have enough runs on the board and start scoring quickly, you tend to ignore these things. But I have that it in my mind pretty strongly because every team will want to challenge you strongly and will want to dry those runs out. So you have to capitalize [on] those important moments so the team can't lose that momentum and start scoring runs again.
Another area for the team would be the inability to wrap up the lower-order quickly. India struggled with the tail on both occasions with Carlos Brathwaite and Devendra Bishoo tormenting them at the very end with a near-100 run partnership.
"That's an area we need to address. It also happens that you take the top-order wickets quickly, so you become a little desperate to keep taking wickets, and forget the things that got you those initial wickets. It becomes very important that the fielders also stay relaxed, don't get frustrated, and bowlers also don't get frustrated,” he said.
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