The start of the fifth day of the 3rd Test between India and Australia at Melbourne Cricket Ground was not an ideal one for the visitors. With two wickets to win, India had to wait for the rainfall to stop for the play to begin on Sunday. The Virat Kohli & Co. had decided to not enforce the follow-on after Australia were bundled out for 151 in the first innings, in reply to India’s 443, and there were criticisms on the social media that Kohli’s decision might push the match for a draw, with the weather coming in to play.
After India took two quick wickets and registered a 137-run win, Kohli was quick to point out that he does not focus on the comments made outside the field and was happy with the decision made by the team management. “It’s a good thing I don’t read any comments or opinions (on not enforcing the follow on). I wanted us to bat more, and add some more runs, because batting would be difficult on day four and five,” the skipper said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
The 30-year-old further credit Indian bowlers for ensuring the win for the visitors. “We knew that it would be tough for Australia, but credit to our bowlers, especially Jasprit. The three fast bowlers have broken the record for most wickets by pacers in a calendar year for a team, which is brilliant. I certainly feel proud as a captain when they bowl in partnerships. No one is looking to out-bowl each other,” Kohli said.
The batsman went on to praise the domestic set-up in India for developing a talent pool of fast bowlers in the country. “Our first-class cricket is amazing, which is why we won. Credit must go to first-class set-up in India, which challenges our fast bowlers in India, and that helps them abroad,” he said.
He further applauded India’s batting performance in the first innings. “Agarwal showed great character on Boxing Day. And Pujara has always been composed, so we just wanted a big partnership. And the fact that Vihari batted so long in the first innings, it allowed us to bat more confidently. And Rohit’s 60-odd as well,” he said.
On being questioned about the upcoming 4th Test in Sydney starting from January 3, 2018, Kohli said: “Nothing can distract us from trying to win that final Test, because we’ve never been in a position to win a series. “We are not going to stop here. This has given us more confidence to play more positive cricket in Sydney. We’ve done well in all three departments, which is why we’ve retained the trophy. But we want to continue. This is how we played in South Africa too, and we’re ready for the final game,” he said.
Australia skipper Tim Paine praised Pat Cummins for his all-round show. “Cummins has been superb all series. The quality was always there, but the Australian public can see his effort. We just need a few more guys to jump in with him. It’s been a difficult year, but the silver lining is that we’ll have some world-class players available for selection in a few months. And we’ll see the benefits of what happened this year over the next few,” he said.
The batsman further praised India’s bowling unit. “We made some strides forward in Perth, but this was disappointing. We’re playing against some of the best bowlers, and we need to find positives before Sydney. Another huge challenge coming up. We had little discussions about the batting order, but conditions in Sydney will be different, so we’ll decide on the best formula. The pitch was a good one, although some said it’s a ‘bad wicket’,” he said.