Virat Kohli, once again, has stated that the team is approaching the ongoing series against Sri Lanka as a trailer for the tough South Africa series that lies ahead. The Indian skipper has also been effusive in praise for his teammates after a crushing innings win over the Lankans in Nagpur.
The first Test at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata had a tinge of green grass on it, and Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal exploited that well to reduce the hosts to 17/3 on Day 1 despite rain washing away most of the day. India's Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami also took India to the brink of an unlikely victory, leaving Sri Lanka reeling at 75/7 in their second innings. Later, it was understood that the type of conditions
Kohli had also admitted the same and stated that the team management had no choice but to request for non-subcontinental pitches because there is hardly any time left to prepare for the South Africa series. The Indian skipper reiterated the same today after beating Lankans on a wicket that he termed “deteriorated”.
“We would like to think we want to prepare for South Africa. That’s why we asked for pitches with help for the fast bowlers. This one deteriorated. Kolkata was the ideal wicket. There’s not enough time in between to prepare so we have to use the time we have now for a big tour coming up,” Kohli said after the match.
Confidence and his incredible fitness have been the biggest ally of Virat Kohli for his success in all three formats of the game and his latest epic - a 267-ball 213 – was his fifth double-century in Tests. Before 2016, Kohli had no double hundreds to his name but now has scored five in last one and a half year, which has understandably given him a lot of satisfaction.
“The pitch was good to bat on. It was on the slower side, but there was nothing much happening from the pitch. I just wanted to bat the way I bat how I wanted to. Get into good position and rotate strike and score quickly so our bowlers have time to bowl the opposition out. We will need that overseas so I was looking at doing that.
“I always wanted to better myself at, in scoring daddy hundreds, for the simple reason that the team benefits. When you lose concentration after a hundred, maybe two wickets can fall quickly. A set batsman can play shots easier than a new batsman so I started thinking in that way and my fitness helps me bat for longer periods,” he said.
Apart from Kohli, Cheteshwar Pujara, Murali Vijay, and Rohit Sharma also struck centuries, which was integral to India’s eventual tally of 610 for 6 declared in response to Sri Lanka’s first-innings score of 205.
“Wonderfully well, Pujara we know, he’s been very consistent. Vijay was playing after a while, he takes pride in playing Test cricket. I know it hurt him to be out and he came back really well. Rohit as well, making a strong case for himself in the future. He will always be there when we speak about combinations. We have a lot of Test cricket coming up,” he said.
In the morning session today, Indian bowlers didn’t allow the Lankan batsmen to settle on the wicket for a longer period and just took a little more than a session today to register an innings win. That pleased Kohli, but he singled out comeback veteran Ishant Sharma’s bowling as the stand out performance of the day.
“All the bowlers, Bhuvi has played a lot of cricket for India in the last few months. Ishant, Shami, and Umesh, not so much. But they bowled a lot of overs in first-class cricket and they always say that’s important for rhythm. And even on this pitch, they were excellent. Although the spinners did a good job for us, Ishant was the standout bowler,” he said.