Indian captain Virat Kohli was all praise for his bowlers, particularly Jasprit Bumrah after the final day of their successful third Test against Australia at the MCG. India won the match by 137 runs and are now close to securing their first away series win in Australia. Kohli spoke to the media after the match.
On worries about weather: Not really. Some people in the management were having a look at that and we knew we had enough time.
On Jasprit Bumrah’s success in Test cricket: He was showing amazing levels of energy and fitness in white ball cricket. He was not giving runs with the new ball, he was getting wickets, he wouldn’t bowl a single loose delivery in the death overs. He was training like he wanted to play Test cricket. We discussed before South Africa that we could put him as a surprise package and he could be lethal. His mindset separates him from anyone in the world. He looks at a pitch and doesn’t think its a hard toil. He thinks wickets. He is as strong headed as anyone I have seen in the past. That is the key to his success. The way he has matured, the areas he is hitting so soon in his career is I think a very scary sign for batsmen around the world. If there is a pitch like Perth, I wouldn’t want to face Jasprit Bumrah. Once he is on a roll he can really crank it up. The way he bowls is very different from anyone and I think he realises that more than the batsman.
On how special this win is: We always knew we can do it. We are very happy but not shocked. We always believed this was possible because of the talent we have in the side and the mindset we have regardless of whatever has been said or whatever mistakes we made. We had to bounce back in England and South Africa and that takes more out of you than starting a series well. This victory is more special to the bowlers because they have put in so much effort because of the nature of the pitch. Hats off to them, that’s all I can say.
On Hanuma Vihari opening: You might not think of Vihari’s contribution as significant in this game but if you look at the fact that he and Mayank Agarwal played out 15 overs with the new ball, it allowed me and Pujara to just bat and bat. We could walk in thinking that we can build a partnership without any pressure. He was confident about doing the job for the team.
On Ashwin’s fitness: Ashwin is close to being match fit, he has been bowling a lot of overs in the nets. I’m sure these next four days will make him even stronger. It being the last Test, he will be willing to push himself and start for the team but it depends on the kind of pitch we get in Sydney.
On team’s mentality: If you want to win a series away from home, it has to be an obsession. Changing decisions according to opinions is not an option at all because everyone has a gut feeling about a shot or a delivery. If you have a gut feeling about what to do in a Test match just follow that. We haven’t changed our mindset regardless of who said what and at the end of the day your belief is what matters because you are the one out there competing.
On tiring out Aussie bowlers: The first aim was to go past 400 and have that psychological avantage, regardless of how much time it took. We never thought we wanted to keep them in the field for longer. We didn’t enforce the follow-on was because it was very warm when our bowlers were bowling and we just wanted to give them enough break to come out and have a go at the batsmen. Keeping the Australians out was never our intention.
On planning and process: In the bowling meetings I usually sit and hear the bowlers talk. It is very important to understand what they are thinking. In that process, you think of plan B and then you communicate that to the bowlers. The bowlers are dictating those meetings and that is how you win Test matches away from home. They are running in with the ball so they have to be confident of the fields and which areas they are hitting. The results are there to see for everyone now.
On Pujara’s consistency this year: I think he has been a lot more flexible with his game. From the last time he has played in Australia he has made a few changes and that is working for him. Now we have the bowling attack that we can rely on and his role becomes more crucial and hold one end and the all the other batsmen play positively around him, we get to the kind of scores we got here and that puts us in a great position. He realises his job even more now, which is to hold one end and bat long hours.
On opportunity for historic series win: It’s a great opportunity. We always wanted to win a series away from home. There is no looking back. It is the last Test of the series and you have to give everything you have. That was our goal from day one. There are factors and incentives attached to this particular series but we are not focussing on that. Our job is to get out there and get results and the next Test is going to be another opportunity to win.