Wellington: Captain Virat Kohli had no qualms in admitting that India were outplayed by New Zealand in the opening Test but said they ‘can’t help it’ if a few want to make a ‘big deal’ out of one loss.
Hosts New Zealand thrashed India by 10 wickets at the Basin Reverse on Monday to go 1-0 ahead in the two-match series. ‘We know we haven’t played well, but if people want to make a big deal out of it, make a mountain out of it, we can’t help it as we don’t think like that,’ the India skipper said at the post-match media interaction.
This was India’s first defeat in the World Test Championship, coming after two inept batting efforts. “Some people might want it to be the end of the world but it’s not. For us, it’s a game of cricket we lost and we move on and keep our heads high,” Kohli said. It is the acceptance of defeat that defines the character of a side, the world’s premier batsman said. “We understand that we need to play well to win, also at home. There’s no cakewalk at international level as teams will come and beat you. You accept it and that defines our character as a side.”
If he had given credence to the ‘outside chatter’, he said the team wouldn’t have been where it is now. “That’s why we have been able to play this kind of cricket. If we would have paid attention to the outside chatter, we would again be at No. 7 or 8 in the rankings. We don’t really bother about what people are saying on the outside,” the skipper said.
One defeat can’t make a team, which has been winning games of Test cricket, ‘bad overnight’. “If we have lost then we have no shame in accepting that. It means we didn’t play this game well. It doesn’t mean that we have become a bad team overnight. People might want to change our thoughts, but it doesn’t work like that.”
The self-belief is intact and Kohli was confident the team would come back stronger in the second Test, to be held in Christchurch in four days time. “We will work hard, and after four days play just like we have played all these years. Just because we have lost one match in between all wins, doesn’t mean that the belief is gone. The dressing room thinks differently and the team atmosphere is different.”
Kohli felt that there is a very thin line between being ultra-defensive and over-attacking, something that his team didn’t get it right in this Test match. “New Zealand got into the mind of the batsmen and make the batsmen do something that they don’t want to. think that’s a very thin line and a very delicate balance of when to attack and when to put bowlers under pressure which
we failed to do in this match and there is no harm in accepting that.”
According to Kohli, it was a combination of both good bowling from the Kiwis and Indian batsmen not putting the pressure back on bowlers, which led to the drubbing. “That has got to do with partly good bowling from New Zealand and partly us not pressing that momentum on to them when required. It was perfect for them because they bowled well and we allowed them to bowl well for longer periods rather than doing something about it in a partnership.”
Also Virat Kohli is not unduly perturbed by his relatively low run of scores on the tour of New Zealand as the premier batsman feels analysing too much can unnecessarily clutter his mind. New Zealand has been one rare overseas tour in recent times when Kohli could not live up to his high standards, scoring only one half-century so far in nine innings across three formats.
His sequence of scores read 45, 11, 38, 11 (T20s); 51, 15, 9 (ODIs) and 2 and 19 (1st Test). So how does he assess his own batting performance? “I am absolutely fine. I am batting really well. I feel that sometimes scores don’t reflect the way you are batting and that’s what can happen when you don’t execute what you want to well.”
For one of the world’s busiest international cricketers, a lull of 3-4 innings shouldn’t be a cause of concern. “Look when you play so much cricket and you play for so long, obviously you will have 3-4 innings that don’t go your way. If you try and make too much out of it, it’ll keep piling on,’ the skipper has his priorities clear.”
According to him, making an honest effort everytime one goes out in the middle should be the priority. “I think it’s all about doing the basics right and putting the hard work in practice. You can’t really walk in thinking that I have to do it every time. You want to do it. But if it doesn’t come off, then you don’t have to beat yourself up too much.”
At the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, Kohli will be happy to even score a 40 if that helps the team win the Test match. A century in a lost cause is irrelevant as far as he is concerned. “I am looking forward to contributing in a win in the next Test. It doesn’t matter what I do. It’s never been about my performance on tour or about how many runs I score. It’s all about if the team wins, even a 40 is good. If the team loses, then even a 100 is irrelevant for me, and I’m going to stay in that mindset,” he stated.