Indian skipper Virat Kohli on the fourth day of the third Test match between India and England in Mohali, Nov. 29. (Vijay Verma/PTI)
Indian skipper Virat Kohli said, Nov. 29, that he is happy that in a space of 12 months the questions about why the team is opting to win on “unfair tracks” have turned into how it is winning on “good wickets,” writes Kushan Sarkar. – @Siliconeer #Siliconeer #India #England #Cricket #ViratKohli #AlastairCook
Kohli and the team management copped a lot of flak during the South Africa series at home where some of the pitches were square turners.
However the wins against England at Visakhapatnam in the second Test and at Mohali in the third match came on tracks where there weren’t much help for the spinners.
“It’s exactly been 12 months that I was asked a question about we playing on unfair pitches and the question has turned itself. So we don’t need to say much about the pitches,” said Kohli, making it clear that he has not forgotten what all was said back then.
“As I said, we are focused on good cricket and we are a team that looks to play good cricket and win sessions. It was a perfectly good wicket for cricket. Even for pace bowlers as well as our guys really rushed in and put in an effort and got results. It was a wicket if you persisted long enough you will get results that you want.
“Even in Kolkata, we showed that we don’t want dry square turners, we have enough skill to play good cricket and win against any team in the world. That’s the belief we have created in the change room. That can only happen when you are not bothered what’s happening outside that door and focus on your own skills,” the captain said with a lot of conviction.
There was a point in time when Indian teams would allow the opposition tail to wag but the skipper is happy that now they have turned the tables on the opposition with the kind of effort they are putting in.
“As a side, when you get five or six wickets, you think that the game is going to get over early and the batsmen go into that zone. Suddenly then you have to field for 60-70 more overs and you are confused on whether to focus on batting or the fielding. We have experienced that in the past where other teams have done that with us and we haven’t found a way to stop it.
“It’s great to see our guys stepping up, actually making it count. Every game, on an average we are scoring 80-85 runs (lower down the order). This match we have scored 200 plus, so amazing to see guys working hard on their batting, understanding that those 70-80 runs put a dent on opposition’s mindset. And when they come out to play, they know that they gave away 60-70 runs too many,” said Kohli.
He feels that someone like Ravichandra Ashwin takes confidence into his bowling from his batting.
“When they come out with that kind of confidence, with the ball also it helps them. You see Ashwin, he is the no 1 all rounder in world. He scores runs and comes out with the ball and is more confident. Credit to them for working hard in executing the plans.”
The skipper said that Mohammed Shami has become more stronger and can sustain pace for a longer time since his comeback from injury.
“Yes, he is stronger and he had to train that extra bit because it was a knee injury and obviously he couldn’t do anything with it. He came back, trained really hard and is rushing in much more now. He is able to sustain that energy for good 4 to 5 overs. He is bowling long spells. He has become more aware of what he wants to do and what he has to do to be a good Test bowler.”
On a lighter note the skipper said that with the match finishing on fourth day, the team can unwind without tension at Yuvraj Singh’s reception happening at a city hotel in Panchkula, Chandigarh.
“There’s a gathering at the hotel. The whole team is invited. We will all go there and it is a nice coincidence (that we have won). We have a chance to celebrate in the evening. So I think the guys will be relaxed attending the function and chill for a bit longer,” he concluded.
In ’12, India were Old Side, In ’16 We are Inexperienced: Cook
England were the last team to beat India at home, back in 2012, and Alastair Cook feels the difference is that India’s ‘Class of 2012’ comprised “ageing players” while England’s ‘Batch of 2016’ is full of rookies with little or no experience of playing in the sub-continent.
Save Cook, Joe Root, none of the England batsmen who played in the 2012 series were a part of the first three Test matches. England had posted a 2-1 win in 2012 over India, a side that had Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Asked to compare the two Indian sides, Cook made an interesting observation.
“The India we played in 2012 was different. Probably an ageing team compared to now. It’s a different set-up, more youngsters, who also have got four years of experience in these conditions. Our team in 2012 was a lot more experienced side (Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Jimmy Anderson, Graeme Swann, Monty Panesar) and played a lot more in the sub-continent before that.
“This side, only two in the top-order have played more than 1-2 games in the sub-continent before we played in Bangladesh. That’s probably the difference,” said Cook.
Cook made no bones about the fact that the team has performed below par but said that “it is frustrating.”
“We haven’t delivered in the last two games. There is nothing worse than that actually, when you know you can play better and you are not quite doing that.”
The skipper was also honest enough to admit that he had “misread” the pitch completely.
“I think all of us misread this pitch. If we would have known, we would have obviously gone in with four seamers and two spinners. Because the seamers are always in the game, with a bit of reverse swing. We can control the scoring rate. I looked at that wicket along with a number of people before the game that we thought is more a lot dry.
“We all thought it’s going to spin more. So in hindsight we would have played four and two but I am quite happy with my decision because I thought it’s the right one at that time. We will have a look in Mumbai as to how it’s turning and bouncing,” the captain explained.
Cook was all praise for Mohammed Shami who worked up some decent pace and also intimidated the England batsmen with his short-pitched stuff.
“We have always known he is a good bowler. Played a lot against him and his record in the sub-continent is actually excellent. If you look at it, he bowls better here in say swinging conditions, which seems very surprising. They have got a good balance to their attack,” said Cook.