There is “no running away” from India’s batting collapses every now and then, captain Virat Kohli said on Friday after his team squandered a 1-0 lead and a golden opportunity to script a maiden Test series win in South Africa. Besides the batters’ failures, Kohli listed inconsistency, lack of application, lapse in concentration and their inability to seize the crunch moments as reasons for the team’s loss in the three-match rubber. The hosts prevailed 2-1.
“The batting has to be looked into, no running away from that. Having collapses every now and then not a good thing,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony after South Africa emerged winners by seven wickets in the series-deciding third Test here.
“No excuses there. It’s really disappointing for sure. We know how far we’ve come as a team. That people expect us to beat South Africa in South Africa is testimony to how far we’ve come. We haven’t done it, that’s the reality, accept it and come back as better cricketers.” India won the series-opener in Centurion by 113 runs but surprisingly caved in against an inexperienced South African team in the remaining two matches, with their batters letting them down on more than one occasion.
Kohli though gave credit to his opponents for the manner in which they staged the turnaround, a day after losing his cool over a DRS decision. “We had a great first game but South Africa did amazingly well. In both Tests they won, they were clinical with the ball in crunch moments. Lapse of concentration cost us key moments and they seized those moments; South Africa were absolutely deserving winners in the end.” The star-studded Indian team thus failed to add to its incredible triumph in Australia last year, and Kohli attributed it to its inability to grab the key moments and capitalising on the momentum.
“As I said, one of the challenges we’ve faced touring abroad is make sure capitalising on momentum, when we’ve done that we’ve won Tests away from home. When we haven’t, they’ve cost us quite bad.” Speaking about the areas that require immediate attention and where they lost out to the Proteas, Kohli said, “Have had a few collapses that have cost us important moments and Test matches. It’s batting; can’t pin-point any other aspect. People talk about pace and bounce, considering their heights, they were able to get much more off the wickets in all three Tests. They applied pressure long enough for us to make mistakes. It’s the understanding of conditions for them which they know very well.” Kohli was impressed by KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant’s centuries, counting them as the positives from the series.
South Africa captain Dean Elgar said his squad didn’t give up despite losing the first Test by a big margin. “I think it will sink in in a day or two, maybe this evening. Couldn’t be prouder of the group. The guys responded brilliantly. After the first loss, had a lot of hope knowing we can still win this. “I asked the players to respond in a better nature, better way and they responded brilliantly. Challenging your players within the group, need character to stand up.” Elgar lavished praise on his inexperienced bowling attack that kept on asking tough questions of the Indian batters.
“The way our bowling unit delivered throughout the series is brilliant. I threw down the challenge after the first game and the guys responded brilliantly. It’s unreal to see how a group that doesn’t have the repertoire or names can gel together as one. If you want to operate at a high performance level, have to have tough chats. If guys don’t like it, it’s up to them to deal with. I’ve got an old-school mentality with new-school twist. Laid down challenges to senior players as well, great to see them take it on board and deliver. Would like to think I gave us the best message for us to go out and perform,” he added.