Taking 20 wickets of little value if we don't bat well: Kohli
By Chetan Narula
Cape Town, Jan 8 (PTI) His bowlers set it up nicely by taking 20 South African wickets but a dejected India captain Virat Kohli said that it would be of little consequence if the batsmen don't put up a better show in the upcoming matches.
India's star-studded batting line-up scored 209 and 135 in both essays in their 72-run defeat in the first Test.
"Taking 20 wickets to win a Test match is the priority. But if your batsmen don't bat well, then it doesn't matter. If you are not getting close to their total, it doesnt matter if you have taken 20 wickets or not. We needed to bat better than what we did," Kohli didn't beat around the bush after yet another humiliating defeat outside the sub-continent.
The skipper felt for his bowling attack which dismissed South Africa for 130 in the second innings and kept the victory target at a gettable 208.
"Definitely, we feel for the bowlers because they bowled their hearts out. A guy like Jasprit (Bumrah) bowled beautifully in his first Test match, he troubled the batsmen a lot this morning. Mohammed Shami bowled his heart out, Bhuvi was good as well and not having done the job, they will also be gutted about it," the disappointment was palpable in skipper's voice.
"At the same time as I said they know that can repeat that performance and if we get a lively wicket again, we can exploit those conditions," said Kohli.
He was all praise for Hardik Pandya for his all-round effort in this Test match.
"Hardik Pandya showed great character in the first innings to get us to that total. We needed if not one big partnership, then every wicket adding 30-35 would have done the job for us. We needed to show more character with the bat there is no question about it," he added.
Kohli spoke about the intent that is needed to be shown with perfect blend of defence and attack while batting on these adverse conditions, which are completely different from the belters on Indian sub-continent.
"We lost four wickets in four overs. If you do that, it is very tough for you to come back and win Test matches from there. You want their bowlers to come back for second and third spells. We failed to do that and need to apply ourselves better.
"At the same time, we need to have intent because the kind of bowling attack they have. You can't even be in a zone of not having intent and see off 35-40 overs. You need to find the perfect balance to do well in South Africa especially where there is more bounce. You cannot be casual at the same time you cannot have loose shots also," he observed.
Kohli did not pay much heed to the criticism about going into the Test match without any warm-up game.
"We were very well-prepared. I don't think we felt any lack of preparation. Even they got out for 130 in the second innings and they play here all the time. It was a wicket where things were happening every day. We let ourselves down with the bat, that's for sure."
Kohli was all praise for man of the match Vernon Philander, who took career-best 6 for 42 to dismantle India.
"Vernon is a different kind of bowler and he has different strengths. He will always pitch the ball in those areas in uncertainty and that's his strength. He will also get the ball to seam both ways also," Philander said.
"You have to be at the top of your game every time you play against this bowling attack because of the variety as well. He bowled really well in the second innings when the ball wasn't doing as much.
"At one stage when Rohit and I were playing, we felt pretty comfortable. We lost four wickets in four overs, which doesnt really help the teams cause especially when you are chasing a low total," he added.
The skipper also rated the Newlands track as an "outstanding" one.
"The pitch was outstanding. I really liked the kind of wicket this was. I think it was great for Test cricket - getting a result in four days despite losing a day's play, it was definitely not one sided, both sides were in it at different stages."
Kohli urged his boys to comeback in the next Test with more intensity than ever.
"To not having got the job done, it hurts and it should hurt because that's the only way you can rectify the mistakes and come out with more motivation in the next match," he signed off