Kohli: 'We let ourselves down with the bat'

India captain Virat Kohli was critical of his team's batting after the visitor slumped to a 72-run defeat against South Africa in the first Test at Newlands, Cape Town.

Kohli: "Losing wickets in clusters never helps winning Tests."   -  AFP

India captain Virat Kohli did not blame the side’s lack of preparation ahead of the series for the defeat in the first Test here on Monday.

He said, “We were very well prepared. But I think we let ourselves down with the bat. Losing wickets in clusters never helps winning Tests.”

Kohli added, “We were happy in the dressing room at lunch when we dismissed them, Jasprit Bumrah bowled beautifully on his debut and Shami bowled his heart out. We felt we could chase 208, it felt very realistic but again we needed someone to go out there and get 75 or 80 and not 25 or 30 runs, wanted a big partnership.”

READ: India surrenders as Philander runs amok

'Pitch was outstanding'

The Indian batsmen needed to step up in these conditions, felt Kohli. “If your batsmen don’t bat well then it doesn’t matter if you are not getting close to their total, it doesn’t matter if you have taken 20 wickets or not. Hardik Pandya showed great character in the first innings but we need more such efforts.”

Dwelling on the pitch, Kohli said, “The pitch was outstanding. Both teams enjoyed playing on it. I think it was great for Test cricket and there was a result in four days despite losing a day’s play.”

Sharing his thoughts on the exclusion of vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane from the playing eleven, Kohli said, “Well, we decided to go on current form. Rohit has been scoring runs and he was batting well even in the Test series against Sri Lanka. Look, these things can always be looked at in hindsight.”

READ: South Africa's Test win in numbers

'I was nervous'

South African captain Faf du Plessis conceded he was a tad apprehensive at lunch when South Africa needed to defend 207. “Definitely I was nervous. I knew that the new ball was going to be key for us and that if we could get wickets with the new ball we feel like we can get through their batting line-up. I came here this morning hoping to get a 350 lead and bowl to them tonight, so obviously, that didn’t go to plan!”

READ: Philander calls Steyn ‘a hell of a champion’

'We've fantastic seam bowlers'

Du Plessis congratulated his pace bowlers. “We’ve got fantastic seam bowlers. Vernon [Philander] and the other two guys are amazing. And if we had Dale [Steyn] there today, I reckon we would have rolled them out cheaper.”

He was all praise for Philander’s commitment. “If there’s something in the wicket, he’s as good as you get around the world. What impressed me most today was he wanted to bowl more overs. He didn’t say after three or four overs ‘That’s enough’.”

The South African captain agreed with Virat Kohli about this Test of several twists being a fantastic game of cricket. He was appreciative of the Indian pacemen, who he said could both seam and swing the ball, and acknowledged he did not expect Jasprit Bumrah to play.

On Steyn’s injury that ruled him out of the series, du Plessis said, “I feel incredibly bad for Dale. He was back bowling at his best in the Test before the injury happened.”

Man of the Match Philander revealing his game-plan against Kohli said, “I bowled two overs of outswingers at Kohli and then got him with one that came in.”

The South African said he did not exchange words with Kohli. “I was just trying to get my team-mates excited,” Philander said.