A visibly angry India skipper Virat Kohli has questioned his team’s commitment after the series loss to South Africa, saying that the repeated fielding mistakes and soft dismissals by the batsmen were simply unacceptable.
In a fiery press conference which saw Kohli arguing with reporters on a couple of questions, the Indian captain pulled up his team-mates for repeated mistakes in the first two Tests.
“At the end of the day one team has to lose. As a team you always try to win. You can accept defeat but not the way we played, the way we let the advantage slip out of our hands, which is not acceptable from a team’s point of view,” a visibly agitated Kohli said after the 135-run drubbing in the second Test.
“So many soft dismissals hurt us a lot. Because you work so hard, prepare for a match, get into good situations, shift the game towards you, and then the momentum shifts because of these mistakes. We have repeated these mistakes in both matches. That feels very bad as a team,” he said.
Kohli said the players need to question themselves on what went wrong for them.
“We have not come here to play the way we have done. I’m not going to sit here and try to comfort anyone. We need to be hard on ourselves. We need to ask ourselves if we are giving 120% for the team every time we bowl a ball or play a ball or field a ball. “We should be reflecting on all our decision-making and all the actions that we have made in this game and the previous game and act upon them. Individuals have to sit and reflect on these things themselves. They do it, I am not saying they don’t reflect on it. We are definitely going to lay out these things in the open,” said Kohli.
He said the team management will ask the players to be honest about what they felt at particular stages of a game.
“The mistakes that we made have been really about not putting attention to detail at important stages of the game. It is something we definitely need to take into account and sit down and discuss as a team,” he said.
While the bowlers did alright, batting let the team down heavily in both Tests. Kohli came down hard on his batsmen for not spending enough time at the crease. “Partnerships of 60s and 70s are not good enough to win Test matches. You need guys to put their heads down when the partnerships has gone to 60 and 70 and try to make it into 100 or 150 to give the team the best chance of winning a Test match or being in a solid position.
“When you are batting, you want to make big 100s and not get out so that the team benefits from that. When we did well in Australia, we got 450 runs every first innings but our partnerships were massive. That is something we haven’t repeated here. “South Africa did not have many partnerships, but whatever they had, one big partnership was always there and that was the key to them consolidating those situations and they deserved to win the series,” he added.
India had left out Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar from second Test. Ajinkya Rahane too did not get a look in. Parthiv Patel for Wriddhiman Saha was the only forced change.
Asked if he had made the best use of the resources available to him, Kohli said, “When something does not work, obviously it’s going to be spoken against. We are pretty used to that. We as a team don’t think of what the opinion going around is. “A lot was spoken about Bhuvi but (Mohd) Shami performed in this game. So now no one is talking about that. It’s all about whoever goes out on the field and performs. We obviously look at the conditions and we decide as a management group and the captain myself sitting together, that what is the best eleven that we can take on the field. “And then we don’t sit back and think ‘Oh we could have done that or we should have done that’. You make one decision and you back it,” he said.
Apart from Kohli, no other Indian batsman crossed the 50 mark with Rohit Sharma’s 47 runs being the second highest across both innings at Centurion.
Asked if there was too much dependency on him, Kohli said, “I don’t think so. No one in the change room thinks like that. There are 11 guys in the field, I try to do my best and so does everyone else.
“Sometimes another batsman plays through the innings but that doesn’t mean that they are too dependent on that particular player. So, everyone has contributed for the team at different times, you can’t win games of cricket with one or two people.
“Everyone has done well in the past and that’s why we have done well, it just has not been able to come well together here.”
India did not have match practice before this series and Test specialists also did not travel in advance. But Kohli did not agree that overseas conditions had hampered this team’s performance in any manner.
“I don’t believe in that. We had a result in three days in Cape Town and we had no complaints. We enjoyed the pitch because we had an equal chance of winning the game there. We were not good enough to do that, that’s a different thing. “But it was not like we were outplayed. We had opportunities in both the games, and that’s probably the smallest positive that we can think of at this moment. We are not complaining about pitches, we are not complaining about conditions,” Kohli said.
“In Test cricket, it does not matter where you are playing. Teams have beaten us at home at times but these conditions (at Centurion) are something that we are used to playing at and we should have certainly done better than what have. “South Africa collectively were a much better team than us regardless of pitches we played on. Their bowlers put relentless pressure on us. As a batting unit, after losing a few wickets, they would string in a partnership. They showed more character than us,” he signed off.