Virat Kohli has lashed out at his batsmen as they failed to put a challenge against South Africa in the first Test of the series in Cape Town stating that they need to bat better. In the same breadth, the Indian skipper praised Hardik Pandya for showing great character in the first innings.
The fans saw many ups and downs in the first match of the much-anticipated series between India and South Africa as both teams went through similar situations but the hosts managed to pull of the game in their favor. Kohli blamed the Indian batsmen for their horrible performance as the team received a 72-run defeat against the Proteas 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 as quoted by Cricketnext.
India needed 208 runs to win the first test match, but the team lost three wickets with the scoreboard reading only 39 runs. Kohli, who scored 28 runs in the second innings, pointed out the need for a good partnership as only Ravichandran Ashwin tried to reduce the deficit by playing a composed knock of 37 runs. He also suggested the batsmen change their mindset which will help them in playing on foreign soil just like the bowlers hav done.
"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
In India’s first innings, after the top order failed to perform on the fast and bouncy track, Pandya came as a savior. He not only held his wicket, but also smashed 93 runs which helped India cross the 200-run mark in response to South Africa’s 286 runs in the first 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.
Ahead of the start of the series, critics and fans had backed Team India to do well and the main reason behind their support was India’s bowling attack. And the bowlers, especially the pacers, didn’t disappoint the fans as they wrapped the South African team at 286 and 130 in the first and second innings respectively. Throughout the match, the bowlers worked hard to keep India in the game, but unfortunately the result ended in the home team’s favor.
"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 team entered in the series without playing any warm-up games as they decided to do their own practice with some domestic Indian pacers who traveled with the team. The experts questioned the decision but the Indian skipper didn’t pay much attention to the criticism.
"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."
Vernon Philander bowled brilliantly to helped his side to wrap up the visitors in just 135 runs in the second innings grabbing six wickets while conceding only 42 runs. Kohli also spoke about Philander and warned his team to stay alert of him.
"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 Newlands track worked in favor of fast bowlers as it helped them guide their respective team’s destiny when the batsmen failed to score. The 29-year-old captain also rated the 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."
For the first Test, Team India decided to drop Ajinkya Rahane to give place to Rohit Sharma, who scored 11 and 10 in the two innings. Rahane, who is one of the most consistent performers on the overseas tour, failed to get a place in the playing XI because of Rohit’s terrific performance in the recently ended series against Sri Lanka.
"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," Kohli explained.