India skipper Virat Kohli said the critics now can not question his team’s ability to force a draw from tough situations as he dug his heels and led the side to a draw in the series-opener.
Kohli played a fighting unbeaten 49-run knock and together with Ravindra Jadeja (32) ensured that the team come out unscathed.
“Well, at least we know how to draw games now. Before that, some people obviously were skeptical about our side knowing how to draw games. We won games or we lost games,” the captain said.
“I spoke with Ravindra Jadeja out there that it was an opportunity for both of us to improve on another aspect of the game. Maybe in Test cricket in the future, we will have this situation again. Maybe we will have to apply ourselves again and show character, show intent to get runs in between, but play percentage cricket, figuring out areas where you want to take ones or hit boundaries but at the same time be sure of your defense as well. It was a challenging situation but one that we counted really well,” Kohli said.
The Indian captain though made it clear that he was surprised to see the tinge of green on the track.
“I was quite surprised to see that much grass, to be honest. It should not have been the case.”
Kohli though said the track was not as unplayable and did not hold demons as it looked from outside with the fall of quick Indian wickets.
“We saw from day 3 onwards, the last hour, the ball did quite a bit for the spinners. That stayed consistent on days 3, 4 and 5. I don’t think it was similar throughout the day. The odd ball bounced in between and you had to pitch the ball in the right areas as spinners to get purchase from day 3 onwards. The first two days were really good to bat on.
“Day 3 onwards, it slowed down a little bit but no demons as such. Sometimes, the situation becomes such that even on flat wickets, you tend to make mistakes. It looks that it is doing a lot more than it is actually out there.
“And, someone who is out there will understand how much the ball was doing because I spent decent time out there and it is because we lost four-five wickets that it looks like it’s going to rip through from a good-length area. That was not the case. The wicket was pretty decent throughout the game,” he explained
He got annoyed when asked whether the visiting team’s spinners out-performed the Indian trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Jadeja and Amit Mishra.
“I don’t think so. They bowled well but it’s not that they outperformed our spinners. It’s not that they took five-for and totally turned around the game. They should have won the game if they outperformed our spinners,” he said curtly. Asked how he felt about India playing catching-up in the game, Kohli said his team will look at it as a chance to know how to play in such situations.
“Depends on how you look at it. The best learning is in the game. You can practice all you want in the nets but once you know how to make runs is when you understand how they are done. When you are put under pressure, if you bat out the innings, if you play a draw, then you understand as a team when you need to switch gears and trust your defence and slow the game down.
“Those things are very important to learn as a Test side if you have to be consistent over a period of time and not just a shot in the dark. We took the opportunity and that’s why you saw Ashwin and Jadeja applying themselves really well.
“Otherwise, it would have been a lot more panic if you did not look forward to the situation. It is very important to want to be there. I thought Ashwin was batting really well, he scored a lot of runs for us this year, so also Saha. Those two are confident. Plus Jadeja’s home ground. So we backed him to get a few runs for us.
“That gave an opportunity to play Mishra, an extra spinner. So at least, we had all our bases covered. With five batsmen, we ended up getting close to 500 and even batted out the second innings as well. Again, it gives us belief as a batting unit. Asked about how well the team had used DRS, Kohli said as a captain he understood the desperation of his bowlers to push him to opt for it when a chance arose.
“Those are very small margins and you have to trust the wicketkeeper and the bowler. But at times you need to understand the bowler might push you to take it in desperation and you need to understand it as captain.”
He also said he had noted the importance of the non-striker standing close to the stumps and assist the striker if a situation arose whether to opt for it or not.
“While batting, one thing I saw was it’s very important for non-striker to stay as close as possible to the stumps, keep figuring out where it’s pitching and be more aware to help out your partner. That might be an important thing in a Test match in an important situation you might not take the DRS like today with Pujara.”
He was referring to Pujara being given out leg before to a ball that pitched outside the leg stump but non-striker Murali Vijay not able to say so as he was standing wide.
While praising England captain Alastair Cook for his century, his fifth on Indian soil, Kohli said his counterpart is a top player.
“He’s a quality player, we all know that. he has played over 100 Tests and scored over 10000 runs, so you don’t take a guy like that for granted. But we don’t focus on things that have happened in the past, we believe that we can get any batsman out on the surface we’re playing on.”