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You can’t hit your way out of trouble, you have to build your innings: Kohli

Three England fast bowlers, James Anderson, Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton, bowled 19.3 overs on the fourth day and the pitch map showed very little dots on and around the leg stump. But more than the line, the nagging length undid India’s batting.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: August 29, 2021 10:25:03 am
IND vs ENGOn the eve of the fourth Test against England at the Oval on Thursday, Kohli was joined by his teammates at the Taj hotel here for the launch ceremony of a new exclusive members' club 'The Chambers'. (Source: AP)

Indian skipper Virat Kohli has ruled out playing an extra batsman following the innings defeat to England at Headingley.

“I don’t believe in that balance (extra batsman) and I have never believed in that balance because either you can try and save a defeat or you can try and win a game. And we have drawn games in the past with a similar number of batters,” Kohli said.

“If your top six or seven don’t do the job, then that extra guy is no guarantee of bailing you out every time. You have to take pride in taking responsibility and doing the job for the team. If you don’t have the ability or resources to take 20 wickets in a Test match, then you are already playing for two results and that’s not how we play,” he added.

“Concentration and precise decision-making”, these are Kohli’s prescribed antidote to England pacers’ length-choke. Hitting one’s way out of trouble is not an option in seaming conditions that give the batsmen very little margin for error.

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Virat Kohli India’s captain Virat Kohli reacts during the presentation ceremony after their loss on the fourth day of third Test cricket match between England and India, at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds, England, Saturday,(AP/PTI)

“We have to accept that they (England) won’t make run-scoring easy for us and we have to put in double effort to score runs. We have to keep double concentration and we should take that as an opportunity; a test of our character, patience and resolve. We have to get out of that situation, building our innings slowly. Because here (in England) you cannot hit your way out of trouble. You have to build your innings,” Kohli said at the post-match press conference after India suffered an innings defeat in the third Test.

Three England fast bowlers, James Anderson, Ollie Robinson and Craig Overton, bowled 19.3 overs on the fourth day and the pitch map showed very little dots on and around the leg stump. But more than the line, the nagging length undid India’s batting.

“The areas they bowled with the (second) new ball, especially the length they hit, you have to be precise in your decision-making to face every ball. It’s not that you make a mistake and the ball is wide enough not to take the edge,” Kohli said, putting emphasis on partnership batting.

“Eventually, it’s how many partnerships you are putting on. Here, even a first innings total of 250 or 300 can be big enough. It’s about putting on partnerships of 50-60 runs. If you can do that, you have done the job for your team. We have to focus on how we can do partnership batting more effectively.”

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After the first day batting implosion that saw India were all out for 78 in their first innings followed by losing eight wickets for 63 runs in the second innings today, batting has been put under the scanner. But during England’s innings, India’s bowling was inconsistent as well. Kohli agreed that England bowled better than India.

“Basically, they bowled a lot better than us in this game. Yesterday we batted well. Today, if I and Pujara would have stuck together for one more session in the morning, it would have been easier for us,” the India captain said, as his team failed to see off the second new ball.

Long rope for Pant

Rishabh Pant is a case in point about how the lack of hitting space has made him a sitting duck. Pant has 87 runs from three Tests in the series and more than the runs, he has been repeatedly getting out to deliveries outside the off stump, playing with an angled bat.

Kohli backed the left-hander. “With one loss, I cannot start analysing that as a captain. Definitely the management is not going to start analysing that. We failed in this game as a team and we take responsibility for that. Similar conversations were being initiated about Pujara as well, which seem to have disappeared after yesterday. We want to give Rishabh all the space to play his game. You can’t judge people all the time on numbers. There’s still time in this series. After two more Test matches, we can look back and reflect and analyse.”

Kohli also dropped a hint about rotating his fast bowlers in the next two Tests.

“That’s bound (rotation) to happen as it’s a logical and sensible thing to do. We don’t want to push individuals to a place where they break down and that conversation is important.”

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