'We did not get it right with the bat' - Kohli concedes batting failure cost India

India captain Virat Kohli felt it would have been harsh to expect the bowlers to defend the 134 that it made batting first against South Africa in the 3rd T20I.

Virat Kohli covers his face with the cap after an unsuccessful review for lbw against South Africa opener Reeza Hendricks.   -  K. Murali Kumar

Indian captain Virat Kohli admitted the team lost due to a combination of good bowling from South Africa and ‘not great’ decision-making. 

Opting to bat first in the third Twenty20 International at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, where teams prefer chasing, India could muster only 134-9. South Africa completed an effortless victory by nine wickets under dewy conditions. 

Virat Kohli explained the team’s stance: “Yes, we wanted to go for a big score. That’s why we batted first. In the past, we have felt we have been 20-30 runs short batting first in T20I cricket and that has cost us the game. The idea was to come out of our comfort zone, and try to get that big score because we are batting till No. 9. But we quickly realised the pitch didn't allow us to do that. 

"After the start, I think we could have reassessed the target to 170 instead of 200. Because of the intent that we showed, we couldn’t to get to that total. We kept losing wickets. 

“But not to take anything away from South Africa, they bowled in the right areas. It was a combination of good bowling and not great decision-making.  But these kind of games will keep happening, as long as we're wanting to come out of our comfort zones as a team and putting ourselves in situations which could be the case in big games in big tournaments, that's the idea behind it,” he said. 

"We will have to take risks in T20. If you want to win a game of cricket you have to take risks..I think as a team if we are willing to get out of our comfort zone a lot more then we will be unfazed with what happens at the toss. That’s our basic idea.

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"I think if we put ourselves in a position where we say we can do anything rather than wanting to do one thing, we’ll be in a better position as a side to capitalise on any situation as a team. Unless you do that and take those kind of risks you will always be under pressure as a team. We want to make sure we iron all those out before going to the T20 World Cup."

With a below-par total, Kohli acknowledged  there was little bowlers could have done. "Washington Sundar bowled well and Deepak Chahar was good with the new ball too. Bowlers coming out of their comfort zone means they get to defend 160, but  you can’t defend 130 with dew. I think we did not get it right with the bat and you can’t be harsh on the bowlers in a T20 game with that kind of a total. I think around 170 would have put the game in balance. I don’t think the bowlers should be analysed or criticized about not defending this total,” he said. 

On the overall performance of the bowlers in the last two series --  against West Indies and South Africa, the skipper said: “I think they have done well. The bowlers are always under pressure knowing one or two overs can take the game away. They've done decently well; we have to be a bit more patient with the combination. Obviously, we have to strengthen one or two things along the way. As a batting unit I can tell you that people batting till No. 9 gives you a lot of confidence, and guys who have the ability to bowl as well. 

“We're taking the best balance we can at the moment. When the big guns come in, when Bhuvi and Bumrah are available, it will be interesting to see the composition of the team, but I think they have done decently well,” he said. 

Miscommunication over No. 4 batsman

Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer were both seen trying to walk in after the fall of the second wicket -- Shikhar Dhawan in the eighth over. Kohli admitted there was miscommunication between the team management and the players.

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"I think there was a miscommunication there. That's what I understood afterwards. The batting coach had had a word with both of them and there was a misunderstanding of who has to go at what stage in the game.” 

“We had planned according to phases. After 10 overs, we decided Rishabh would come in. Before that, Shreyas had to walk in. I think both got confused and didn't realise who has to walk in at which stage. That was a miscommunication there."

“It was a little funny as well, they both wanted to walk in. It would have been very funny if both reached the pitch, [there would have been] three batsmen in the field!” Kohli said, making light of the incident.