Virat Kohli speaks about rivalry with Ben Stokes, praises Indian bowlers
After taking an unassailable 2-0 lead in the five-match series against England, Virat Kohli was happy to talk about his side’s impressive bowling performance and was also bemused when asked about his ongoing rivalry with England’s star all-rounder Ben Stokes.
The Indian Test captain also admitted that the hoopla surrounding the toss, which India lost was something that spurred on the hosts into making sure that it doesn’t play a huge role. He admitted that losing the toss and winning while batting second is exactly what India wanted to do.
“I think the first two days of the game is exactly what the team wants to do as a Test team,” Kohli said. “When you are put in trouble after losing the toss on a good wicket, the bowlers stand. Then on Day 2, you are 156 for 5 and then your lower-order steps up.
He was quick to stress on the importance of the first two days, which brought him great pleasure as a captain.
“Our confidence went up really high even in the second innings when we came out with the ball. It sort of carries through. It's something that we've learnt from in the past and the guys have shown the improvement. It shows that are keen to improve on the mistakes that can happen,” the Indian Test skipper said.
Kohli on Stokes rivalry
When he was asked about the rivalry with Stokes, Kohli seemed surprised with the choice of question given the cricket that took place over the last four days. The pair have had an ongoing battle since the first day of this Test when the pair shared a fiery verbal spat for which Stokes was reprimanded by the ICC. Then, Kohli’s dismissal on day two, by the all-rounder prompted a send-off in which Stokes closed his mouth and then Kohli gave Stokes a send-off on day three.
“I'm surprised out of all the cricket questions, you picked this,” he said. “He’s a competitive player and so am I. I wouldn't like to explain or elaborate what happened on the field. It's better left to officials to know what happened. These things have only motivated me in the past and continued to do so. So I don't mind it.”
India have always had a good spin bowling unit but what impressed Kohli more than anything else was the performance of his fast bowlers and the fact that they are able to leave out quality pacers like Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who haven’t got a game in this series so far.
“It obviously boosts your confidence up a notch,” he admitted. “With quality bowlers in your reserves as well, as captain I think you can ask your bowlers to push in every game that they play. We still have Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar sitting and waiting for their chance to play. Both quality bowlers.
He also spoke about how even someone as experienced as Amit Mishra wasn’t getting enough games.
“Even in spin, Amit Mishra hasn't played, so the good thing is that whoever is playing they are standing up and making their presence felt. That as a captain is very pleasing, especially in a game like this where you lose the toss and get the opposition out for 280 on a flat wicket, really gives you confidence as a bowling unit that you are on top and you are dictating terms. As a captain it is an added advantage,” he said.