Cape Town: India Test captain Virat Kohli rued the batting failures in the 2-1 series loss to South Africa. He added that the team will continue to back the under-fire senior batters Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane despite their failures in the three-match series. After leading 1-0, India went on to lose the next two matches in Johannesburg and Cape Town to squander a chance of winning their first-ever Test series in South Africa.
“The batting has let us down in the last two games. We needed to step up and there’s no running away from that. Honestly, I can’t sit here and talk about what will happen in the future. That’s not for me to discuss. For that, you need to speak to selectors and ask what they have in mind because it’s not my job. We have continued to back Cheteshwar and Ajinkya because of the kind of players they are,” said Kohli in the post-match press conference after India lost the third and deciding Test by seven wickets on Friday.
“What they have done in Test cricket for India over the years and played crucial knocks in the second Test as well and saw that important partnership in the second innings, which got us to a total what we could fight for. These are the kind of performances we recognise as a team. What selectors have in mind, I can’t comment on that sitting here,” added Kohli.
Kohli admitted that the batting, including the lower-order, didn’t stand up to the occasion as a collective. After scoring 327 in the first innings at Centurion, India made scores of 174, 202, 266, 223 and 198 in the rest of the series. “When we say batting line-up, we add lower-middle order also to it. It’s not just focusing on four or five guys. It is also the responsibility of number seven and eight guys to get the runs required to be put on the board. It is a collective responsibility.”
“Everyone knows it (lower order didn’t contribute), that they haven’t quite stepped up and put in performances that could have given us more comprehensive or dominating positions. That’s what I understand about why we lost the two Test matches. We lost too many wickets (clusters) in a session, which we did a few times in the past as well.”
Asked about the sense of sorrow in the camp, Kohli remarked, “We are disappointed. When you know you can win the series and you have a chance to beat South Africa in South Africa, you feel disappointed when you are not able to do that. That’s a very natural part of the sport. Especially for a team that’s so driven and eager to win everywhere in the world and believes in winning anywhere in the world, and having done so, it’s very disappointing to not get the result we wanted. But that’s sport, you need to accept it and move on to try and improve and get better.”
Talking about what transpired around the Dean Elgar lbw controversy on day three, Kohli refused to go into details. On-field umpire Marais Erasmus had given Elgar out off Ravichandran Ashwin but the ball-tracking technology showed the ball had missed the stumps, and the decision was overturned on review.
“I have no comment to make on it (stump mic chatter from day three). We have understood what happened on the field and people on the outside don’t know exactly what goes on the field. For me to try and justify what we did on the field and say we got carried away, if we had gotten charged up and picked up three wickets, then it would have been the moment that changed the game.”
“The reality of the situation is we did not apply enough pressure on them for longer periods of time throughout the course of this Test match and hence, we lost the game. That one moment seems very nice and exciting to make a controversy out of, which honestly I am not interested in making. It happened in the past and we have moved on from it. We kept focusing on the game and tried to pick wickets.”