India captain expects the players to improve their body language and intensity before the second Test
Though he didn’t name Shahbaz Nadeem or Washington Sundar, captain Virat Kohli said after India’s 227-run defeat to England in the first Test in Chennai that their back-up bowling options to the two quicks and R Ashwin had left a fair bit to be desired. “I don’t think we put enough pressure with the ball,” he said, and that “our body language and our intensity wasn’t up to the mark”.
“Collectively, as a bowling unit, I think the fast bowlers and Ash [Ashwin] was pretty good in the first innings but then we needed, probably, all the bowlers to contain a few more runs, create enough pressure,” Kohli said after the match on the official broadcast. “Having said that, it was a pretty slow wicket with not much happening in the first two days, which made it very easy for the batsmen to rotate strike and get into the game. It just looked like there was not much happening on the first two days with the ball.
“Yeah, that’s a fair assessment,” Kohli said when Murali Kartik asked him if Nadeem and Sundar had failed to apply as much pressure as the three senior bowlers. “You need your bowling to collectively step up and create enough pressure on the opposition and we felt (we) probably didn’t achieve that in this game. Which is fine, I mean, lack of execution is acceptable, but to understand that our mindset was right was very important for us. Which I think we did in the second half with the ball, in the second innings, we put enough pressure on them. But not enough to win a Test match, not enough to come back into the game.”
England put themselves in a strong position when they scored 578 in the first innings and made it tougher for India by bowling them out for 337. And though India set up a 420-run chase by bowling England out for 178 in their second innings, the chase never really moved up the gears.
“Credit to England, they still got stuck in, they spent enough time at the crease in these conditions – I understand it’s not easy all the time. So you have to give credit where it’s due and our body language and our intensity wasn’t up to the mark,” Kohli said. “[In the] second innings we were much better. With the bat as well, [in the] second half we were much better, not the first half, not the first four-five batters.
“Yeah, look, we have to understand that we have done decently well in this game and the things that we haven’t, and as a side we are always looking to improve. So I would probably say that England was far more professional and consistent throughout the Test match than we were.
“We (the batting group) left a few things to be desired, and to be analysed, as batsmen, the kind of shots and decisions we took. So look, we are always learning as a side and we are looking to evolve as a side, and Test cricket is tough, it’s a hard grind, and England was ready for that grind, probably better equipped than us, and yeah, that’s the result that’s on the screen now.”
On the subject of body language and attitude, though, one India player came in for praise from the captain: Rishabh Pant, the wicketkeeper whose chirping and wisecracks from behind the stumps kept viewers engaged and entertained, especially during England’s first innings.
“He’s a guy who likes to have fun on the field, that’s his personality, that’s his essence, we want him to continue in that manner, because it keeps the boys entertained as well,” Kohli said with a smile. “Plus a conversation out there is very helpful when the situation is tough and things are not going your way. So his personality is very helpful for the team and he brings in a lot of energy and we want to continue the same way.”
More to follow…