India continued their dominance over South Africa in the ongoing Test series, as the hosts overpowered the Proteas by an innings and 137 runs in the second match in Pune. With this win, the Virat Kohli-led Indian unit have now taken an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Leading the side from the front, Kohli emerged as India’s hero in the thumping victory. He completed his seventh double-century on Day 2 to put India on the driver’s seat as the hosts piled up a gigantic 601/5 first innings total on the board. In response, South Africa failed to resist the Indian bowling attack as they were bundled out on 275 and 189 in both the innings.
Speaking on his performance, Kohli said that the responsibility as a captain takes the pressure off and eventually helps him getting the big scores. “It’s about getting the responsibility back as a captain. The mindset is always to help the team and in that process, the big scores come. I think the moment you start thinking about the team, all the pressure goes away,” the Indian skipper said at the post-match presentation.
“Putting the team in a commanding position is the only goal. It’s been natural progress to have a calm mindset over the years. I have a good understanding at that and hence the muted celebration,” he added.
Kohli also believes that him and his deputy Ajinkya Rahane are currently the most successful Indian pair. ” You have to look forward to playing against the new ball. I enjoy batting with Jinks (Rahane), he has a great mindset. We communicate and run well between the wickets. We are probably the most successful Indian pair and the only reason is both of us play for the team. We take a lot of pride in that. Having him at the other end, keeps you focused.”
Speaking on the progress that the team has made under his leadership, Kohli said, “The good thing is when we started, we were at number 7. The only way was up. We laid down a few things and are all lucky to have this group of players. In the last 3-4 years, it’s amazing to see that hunger for all the guys to keep improving.”
The skipper also praised wicketkeeper-batsman Wriddhiman Saha and R Ashwin. “Saha was back to his best, coming into Vizag you could see he was nervous. Ashwin has stepped up beautifully and it’s guys willing to work hard on those one or two percent things for the team. It’s been nice and looking at the larger picture – the Test Championship, every game has even more value. We are not going to take the foot off the gas in the third Test. We are looking for a result and hopefully make it 3-0. No-one’s going to relax at any stage, that is a guarantee.”
South African skipper, Faf du Plessis, hailed India’s dominance with the bat. He also felt that Kohli’s unbeaten 254 was the difference between both the sides as it took the pressure of the rest.
“We know in the sub-continent, first innings is really important. The runs that you put on the board, give yourself a chance. But the way India batted and especially Virat getting 250 (254) takes a lot of mental toughness. To put a score like that in the first innings and two days on the field got us down. The batsmen were weak on mindset for fielding for so long. You have to be on top of your best game if you aren’t then you are found wanting.”
“We saw in the first Test as well, as a captain you try and think of ways about the field placements. All the questions and stuff we threw at him (Virat Kohli), he had the answers. Just relentless and sticking to his game. For me what really stuck out was the hunger for runs. I feel it was the right selection for this pitch; I thought it was the right-decision picking an extra seamer. KG managed to build some pressure but we needed another bowler to compete, who could do that job. When you look at the Indian attack, they bowl well in pairs. It was a young fast bowler making his (about Nortje) debut, it’s about learning and improving. Ngidi is fine and is working hard on his fitness. It’s about getting his tank up and hopefully, we’ll see if he plays the next Test. All in all, India deservedly are the Test series winners and their record speaks for itself. We will try to improve in the next Test,” he added.