Friday, March 3, 2017

You"ll not see Pune-like bad performance again, promises Virat Kohli

Indian Captain Virat Kohli addressing a press conference a day before the 2nd Test against Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Pic/ PTI
Indian Captain Virat Kohli addressing a press conference a day before the 2nd Test against Australia at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. Pic/ PTI

Bengaluru: Indian captain Virat Kohli today assured that his team will never repeat the kind of “bad performance” and “lack of intent” that led to the humiliating opening Test loss to Australia in Pune.

The Indians were hammered by 333 runs in the first Test inside three days in a stunning defeat, which ended their 19-match unbeaten streak.

Ahead of the second Test starting here tomorrow, Kohli said the hosts have learnt their lessons from the debacle. “You will not see such a bad performance again, I will assure you that,” said the feisty captain in a pre-match press conference.

“It is important to accept defeats. We lost the Pune match because of lack of intent. Australia played better cricket. It is important to accept defeat, if you go by your ego or ignore it, it will affect you only. It doesn’t mean losing in Pune would result in us losing the other matches also,” he added. Kohli said it was a rare collective failure for the Indians.

“Sometimes such defeats are necessary. This gave us a platform to understand where we lacked. It happens very rarely that the whole team does not perform, this is what happened in the last match. We learnt a lot from that loss,” Kohli said.

“Even if we win or lose, our preparation remains the same. The intensity remains the same even if we lose or win a match. Basically you don’t change the practice depending upon the result,” he added.

Kohli refused to divulge what changes are likely to be made in the playing XI though he promised “surprises”.

“We have a combination in mind and we will finalise it when we sit together this evening. There are all kinds of possibilities tomorrow there could be few surprises,” he said. However, Kohli did confirm that all-rounder Hardik Pandya was not yet fit to be considered for selection.

“Hardik Pandya is not available for selection. He has a niggle in his shoulder. Rest of them are fit and available.”

Steve Smith’s men were labelled the weakest Australian team ever to tour India before the series but managed to surprise naysayers with a thoroughly commendable all-round performance.

Smith himself showed excellent form for a hundred on the rank turner of Pune.

Asked how the home team would look to negate the Smith factor, Kohli said, “Our focus is not only on him. I think the whole team has to play against Australia to win the Test match. We are not focussing on one player at all.”

“All 10 wickets have to be taken twice to win a Test match, that is something we already have marked,” he added.

Kohli also played down the threat posed by Australian pace attack led by Mitchell Starc.

“I don’t think there will be any extra sort of variation added to his bowling suddenly. He is the bowler he is. We have to accept that and face him the best way as a batsmen,” he said.

Kohli also refused suggestions that they are under pressure as suggested by his counterpart Steven Smith. “It is better we focus on our skills rather than what Australia is saying. I know these are mind games that they come up during press conferences. We still have to play cricket as we are doing for the last few years,” he added.

The questions kept veering towards the Pune loss and parallels were drawn with the infamous 2015 loss to Sri Lanka in Galle, which was followed by an unbeaten streak that ended last month.

“It was basically a scenario where we look at a situation differently. It is similar when you bat and bowl you try to break a partnership by taking three wickets in a spell. I think we believed as a team that we can win from that position. I think we have more experience and belief in the team that we had back then,” he added.

Kohli said it is never a good idea to get either too excited by a win or too deflated by a loss.

“We are all professional cricketers but sometimes when you are winning lot of games you don’t tend to focus on to improve as such, because someone or the other would step in,” he reasoned.

“When the whole team does not execute the things you want to, you understand a lot of things to work on and that’s always a good sign…you can’t take anything for granted during a Test match. I think these things are also very important in your cricket journey,” he said.

The swashbuckling batsman, who endured a rare failure with the bat in Pune, said he expects the familiarity with the pitch to work in favour of India here.

“I have played a lot of games here. I don’t think the Bangalore wicket has changed over the years. No surprises at all. Whenever we have played Test cricket we have done well. We take all these things into account,” he said.

“We always play well at this stadium. Even the last Test that we played here we won against Australia. These things are big positives for us. We know exactly how this wicket plays and we know exactly what to do with this sort of wicket,” he added.

Off-spinner Jayant Yadav drew criticism for his below par performance in the first Test where he took just two wickets. But Kohli refused to say whether he would be dropped. “These are perceptions. We have our ideas that we will address as management and go with best combination possible.

Jayant has been outstanding. You can’t put pressure on the guy who has played only one series. The way he has grabbed his spot, it has been outstanding. He is an intelligent cricketer,” he asserted.

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