It's a very special feeling, says Kohli

Four years ago, at the same vanue, Virat Kohli was left heart-broken after his finest century brought India closer to what could have been an incredible win. Indian innings imploded in stunning fashion following his dismissal, ending in a 48-run defeat for them.

Monday’s final day of the opening Test gave him enough jittery moments, but he wasn’t to be denied his redemption. When R Ashwin nailed the final wicket to give India a 31-run win, no one was more animated than the Indian skipper and it seemed as if all the pent-up emotions of four years had come bursting at the seams. Looking more relaxed at his post-match address to the media, Kohli termed the victory as a “special feeling.” The excerpts.

On his emotions: Four years back it was 48 runs (defeat) on the other side. This one is way better. 31 (runs win) on our side. Great feeling. Never won a first Test in a series in Australia (India had taken lead in 2003 but they had never won the first Test in a series in Australia). Something that, for us, is a huge boost. It has given us the right momentum to play in a big series like this. Something we have had to work hard for. Any Test victory is special. You work hard for five days. The physical and the mental toil and the emotion of it all comes together in a result, so it is a very special feeling. Having never done it in Australia, to take the lead first-up, is a good achievement on the team’s part, and something we are looking to build on.

On the fightback from Australia: We did not take anything for granted. The pitch also got a little slow in the second session. The Kookaburra gets softer and it is difficult to get the ball going off a length and nick batsmen off. Our fast bowlers still came back and bowled with great heart. We knew they were not going to throw in the towel just like that. Their tail, I think, is in the top three when it comes to lower-order averages in the past couple of years. They put a price on their wicket. We certainly expected them to fight. We had that in mind.

On batsmen’s need to be patient: In the first innings, we didn’t bat smartly in the first session and allowed their bowlers to get back in the game. The longer we stay at the crease, they will have to bowl 2nd or 3rd spells and you have more scoring opportunities because when the Kookaburra gets softer, you can play shots easier. Second innings we had to take a different approach because there was time in the game, we didn’t want to score runs too early because if we keep them in the field, they will get frustrated and we will get runs later. The way Ajinkya (Rahane) batted positively in the second innings and (Cheteshwar) Pujara batted well again. So, our focus was on partnerships. In the first innings all of us in top order tried to create momentum rather than letting the game unfold on its own. That was one thing that we have to keep in mind for the next Test. In the second innings openers batted better and we learnt a lot from that.

On Ashwin’s role and his effort: Well, he was given a specific role, yes. I think he was very economical and bowled in the right areas, just to create enough chances and keep one end tight, because we didn’t want to go overboard wanting him to attack too much because that would have opened up scoring options as well. Actually, if you look at the whole day, they were playing with a mindset where they knew they were up against it and they were just looking for an opening where you get 50-60 runs in an hour and then you start putting the opposition under the pressure. We never wanted that to happen, if this was the case in the first innings where there was that much assistance or these many spots, he would have been more aggressive with hitting those spots but the fact that he controlled the game nicely and kept us in the game, not letting it drift away too much away at any stage, I think he did his job perfectly and he finished with, what eight wickets (6 wickets in fact) in the Test? So, I think that’s a good start for him and build on that. He did his role perfectly in the second innings.        

On using four bowlers: You have to figure out how long two bowlers can bowl together. It depends on how you want to start the session. If Australia had been 4-50, we would have gone with our strike bowlers straight away and afforded to give away a few runs. The fact that we went with Ashwin and Ishant this morning was because we had a template where we were scoring at 1-2 runs an over maximum and then we build on that to gain momentum and be positive from ball one. As batsmen you understand that if you are not playing with positive intent you can nick off at any stage. And that’s exactly what happened with those guys who were not ready.

On no-balls: Ishant Sharma (who dismissed two batsmen off no-balls) was the most pissed off right now. We were all celebrating but he was really angry with himself and we asked him why and he said ‘I cannot afford to bowl a no-ball being a senior guy and having played so much cricket in the crunch situation when the umpire could have given that out’. So that could have been the difference at a more important stage in the series. So, look guys take ownership of those things but they can commit mistakes. As long as the attitude is right, we look to correct those mistakes. So, this incident that’s happened, I am sure Ishant is going to be obsessed about not doing it again, just like how we improved our batting straight away in the second innings at the top of the order.

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It's a very special feeling, says Kohli

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