Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
“You didn’t see anyone sort of closing their eyes to bouncers or getting out throwing their bats around”
Following South Africa pace spearhead Dale Steyn’s comments about India’s batsmen being scared during the first ODI in Johannesburg, India vice-captain Virat Kohli came to their defence, stating that they weren’t frightened in any way whatsoever.
However, Kohli did admit that India were completely outplayed in the first ODI, which they lost by 141 runs.
“I don’t think so,” Kohli said when asked if India’s batsmen were shaking in their boots heading into the second ODI in Durban. “On a personal level, I don’t think so. As I said, I was down the wicket to the fourth ball I faced. It is not about getting frightened or anything like that. He is a quality bowler and we all know that, and we should be good enough to tackle that and come up with the goods when we face him.
“I don’t think anyone in this Indian team is frightened of anything. Regardless of the loss the other day, you didn’t see anyone sort of closing their eyes to bouncers or getting out throwing their bats around. We were trying hard to counter the bowling they came up with, and they were bowling in great areas, but you didn’t see anyone sort of moving away from stumps and trying rash shots or anything like that. We were all trying to get into positions to play correct shots, but they pitched it in the right areas and were getting enough help to trouble us.”
Kohli believes that India’s poor performance can be attributed to the fact that they did not have enough practice sessions and matches, which meant that they were not fully accustomed to the conditions just yet.
“The unfortunate part is that we didn’t get that too many practice sessions or practice games,” Kohli said. “Our schedule has been such. It is unfortunate that we have to sort of play games and then get to know the conditions, rather than be prepared a week or 10 days before. That’s all part of the busy schedule we have. We have got to go along with that, and be mentally strong to come back in the next game and perform better.”
Kohli added that this was the reason why the Indian bowlers conceded 358 runs.
“Bowlers are so used to bowling back home for the last few months that the lengths can’t be changed at such a short notice,” he said. “I think the bowlers do get excited with a bit of pace and bounce. It tends to happen every time. You see when there is bounce and pace in the wicket, the bowlers do tend to go a bit short because they feel they can bowl that length.
“We have understood, we have learned from the first game, and you will see a much better performance from the bowlers and the batsmen combined. It is all about learning. As I said, we don’t have much time to prepare before the game so we would rather learn from the games, and move forward and improve our performances. I hope we pitch the ball in right areas and bat well tomorrow.”
However, the 25-year-old also admitted that it was tough to face Steyn when chasing a mammoth total of 359.
“He was quite brilliant the other day,” Kohli said. “He is a world-class bowler, and we all know that. To see him swing the ball from middle stump, and get it past the off stump, actually the fifth stump, it was tough to face. It was something very rare because not many can swing the ball like he does, and he was just in great rhythm and pitching the ball in the right areas.
“All you can do as a batsman is to try and upset his length, and that is why when I stepped out and I wanted to hit him over the infield to disturb the length he was bowling. Otherwise if you keep defending, you kept getting beaten, so you have to come up with something.
“We always knew that we will get bounce and pace in South Africa, and we had that in mind. We have plans as batsmen, but when you are chasing 359 there is not much you can do. You may have a set plan, you might tell yourself you don’t want to play too many flashy shots in the beginning, but when you are chasing 360 you have to play those shots.”