Too early to write off India's chances

Cricket : Just want to learn from errors and move forward, says Kohli

Too early to write off India's chances

 Just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, one defeat doesn’t mean this Indian team is good for nothing. However, that’s what the perception one gets if one were to read some of the criticism driven at Virat Kohli and his men.

Admittedly, Australia were the better side. They outbatted and outbowled India on a surface where the hosts should have dominated. That India were bowled out for just 105 and 107 with Australian spinners Steve O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon sharing 17 wickets between them, does come as a big surprise. But stranger things have happened in cricket.

When India won in Perth in 2008 against all expectations with Indian pacemen out-performing their Aussie counterparts, it didn’t mean Australia had forgotten the art of playing fast bowlers. While credit should be given to Australia for defying all predictions, writing off India with three more Tests still to go in the series would be naïve to put it mildly. As Virat Kohli gently reminded, when India last lost a Test from a winning position against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2015, they went on a 19-Test unbeaten run.

More recently England came at a sniffing distance of pulling off a win in the first Test in Rajkot before India hung on for a draw. India then won four out of four Tests. Before anyone could say anything, Kohli was the first admit that they didn’t play good cricket and hence didn’t deserve to win. There was some honest introspection and in tune with their stated policy, India didn’t complain about the nature of the pitch.

“I don’t think it was any different from the turners that we played in the past,” stressed Kohli.  “We just didn’t play good cricket. You can ask me any sort of question or any perception about the loss. We know exactly what happened, the mistakes that we made. External perceptions don’t matter to us. We played good cricket that’s why we won, we played bad cricket and that’s why we lost. That’s how simply we look at this defeat. We just want to take the learnings forward, improve and come back stronger in the next game,” he warned.

While admitting that the surface was challenging, Kohli said the batsmen lacked application. “See, spin-friendly wicket or seam-friendly wicket, the only thing that matters is, as a batsman how you apply yourself and what your shot selection is,” reasoned Kohli.

“Even on flat wickets you can be dismissed, if your application isn’t right. I would say our application in this game was very bad. We couldn’t build partnerships. I think that was our worst point. That’s one area which we worked on in the past few months with pride and executed it as well.

“I wouldn’t think too much about this Test. If after 18 or 19 Tests, we play one bad game, you have to accept that it's a part of international cricket. I don't know if people were thinking that we couldn't lose at all, but in our mind there was no such thing. If we don't play good cricket, then any team can beat us,” he analysed.

Tendulkar’s take

Meanwhile, cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar on Sunday threw his weight behind the Indian team and said that the side will bounce back from the defeat.

“Coming to India-Australia Test series, it was a tough Test match for us. But it is a part and parcel of the game. The loss (in the first Test) does not mean that the series is lost, the series is still wide open,” Tendulkar told reporters in New Delhi.

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