Kohli: 'Surprised to see so much grass on the pitch'

Virat Kohli spoke to the media after the game on the team's performance in the Rajkot Test.

Virat Kohli said it was important for the batsmen to continue playing positively despite the situation.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Virat Kohli was convinced that there were no demons in the pitch and that circumstances of having lost wickets may have made it appear so. When asked about the nature of the pitch that seemed to have worsened in the latter half of the fifth day’s play, the India captain said: "The ball did quite a bit for the spinners from the last hour of day three. That stayed consistent on days 3, 4 and 5. I don’t think it was similar throughout the day. The odd ball bounced in between and the spinners had to pitch the ball in the right areas to get purchase from day three onwards. The first two days were really good to bat on. From day three it slowed down a little bit, but no demons as such. Sometimes, the situation becomes such that even on flat wickets, you tend to make mistakes. It looks that it is doing a lot more than it is actually out there. Someone who is out there will understand how much the ball was doing because I spent a decent time out there and it is because we lost four-five wickets that it looks like it’s going to rip through from a good-length area. That was not the case. The wicket was pretty decent throughout the game.’’



Listen to Kohli's interaction with the media
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Excerpts:

Five-bowler theory: I was quite surprised to see much grass, to be honest. It should not have been the case. Secondly, I thought Ashwin was batting really well; he has scored a lot of runs for us this year, so has Saha. Those two are confident. Plus, it was Jadeja’s home ground. So we backed him to get a few runs for us. That gave an opportunity to play Mishra, an extra spinner. So at least, we had all our bases covered. With five batsmen, we ended up getting close to 500; and even batted out the second innings as well. So, going ahead, we can still have an extra bowling option and keep putting pressure on the opposition. It was something you can look forward to or feel that you don’t have an extra batsman and go into a negative mindset. I think the guys applied themselves very well.

On the result: Well, at least we know how to draw games now. Before, some people were sceptical about our side knowing how to draw games. We won games or have lost games. I spoke with (Ravindra) Jadeja that it was an opportunity for both of us to improve on another aspect of the game. Maybe in Test cricket in the future, we will have this situation again. Maybe we will have to apply ourselves again and show character. The intent was to get runs, but play percentage cricket, figure out areas where you want to take ones or hit boundaries, but at the same time, be sure of your defence as well. So, it was a challenging situation, but one that we encountered really well, I thought.

Catching up with England: Depends how you look at it. We looked at it as an opportunity to know how to play in this situation. The best learning is in the game. You can practice all you want in the nets, but once you know how to make runs, then you understand how they are done. And when you are put under pressure, if you bat out the innings and play a draw, then you understand as a team, when you need to switch gears and trust your defence and slow the game down. Those things are very important to learn as a Test side if you have to be consistent over a period of time. We took the opportunity and that’s why you saw Ashwin and Jadeja applying themselves really well. Otherwise, it would have been a lot more panic, if you did not look forward to the situation. It is very important to want to be there.

Batsmen positive while playing out a draw: In these situations it's very important, as I said, when things get heated out there, when there's a lot of pressure on the batsman, it's very important to have the intent of scoring runs. Because as an opposition you know that the ball is going to the boundary as well, you got to take more time to recover it. The bowlers panic, the opposition panics, the captain panics. At the same time, the score keeps ticking as well. So that was the whole idea; to have the intent to score runs also, because that way you're looking forward to playing the ball, you're nicely on top of the ball, your head is on top of the ball. If you're only looking to defend, sometimes your weight can be back and if the ball is turning even a little bit, the close in fielders come into play. So it was very important to keep intent onto the ball to control it better with your hands. That was the whole idea about being a bit positive as well.

About his counterpart’s century: You have to consider the fact that we dropped quite a few catches on day one. You wouldn't be asking me this question if we had taken our chances. Even in the second innings, a few balls were falling here and there. Obviously if the batsman takes his chance and gets away with it and gets a 100, things become very different. But at the same time, we bowled well to him, put the ball in the right areas. But credit to him, he fought it out. He's a quality player, we all know that he has played over 100 Tests and scored over 10000 runs, so you don't take a guy like that for granted. But we don't focus on things that have happened in the past, we believe that we can get any batsman out on the surface we're playing on. That's the mindset we need to have in Test cricket; if you go on reputations and up against a guy who has scored a lot of runs before, then you're obviously giving him the upper hand, which we never think as a Test side.

DRS: Those are very small margins and you have to trust the wicketkeeper and the bowler. But at times you need to understand the bowler might push you to take it in desperation and you need to understand it as captain. While batting, one thing I saw was that it's very important for a non-striker to stay as close as possible to the stumps. From a little wider from the stumps, the line of the ball is never judged, you always feel like that the ball is straight, but it's actually pitching outside the line. So that's what we spoke about, it's important to stay close to the stumps, keep figuring out where it's pitching and be more aware to help out your partner. That might be an important thing in a Test match, in an important situation you might not take the DRS like today with Pujara. Those things can be corrected; with DRS you can only do what is in our control, and that is to be precise and as aware as possible. Obviously you're going to make mistakes, the umpire's call and all that come into play as well. I think it's a good thing, it just confirms the decision that has been made and it's good for cricket overall.