March 3, 2017 12:44:18 pm
On the eve of the second Test between India and Australia with the hosts having their backs against the wall post the 333-run loss in Pune, skipper Virat Kohli maintained that the criticism of that loss or even the praise during the 19-match unbeaten streak didn’t matter to the side. He further stated that the nature of the defeat mattered more to the team than the defeat itself. “As a team we focus on what we do – we take losses and wins together. The one reason we got that streak was with the intent to play well. It doesn’t matter if we win or lose as long as we play well. Last game was a disappointment because of how we lost. If you don’t have the intent, then it hurts you more. The comments after that never mattered to us,” he said on Friday at the press conference in Bangalore.
The second Test gives the home side a chance to claw back in the four-match Test series and do well against the spin – considered their strong suit. But this was proven as an anomaly with India losing twelve wickets to Steve O’Keefe and all ten wickets in the second innings going to spin (O’Keefe and Nathan Lyon).
“I’m happy, I’m smiling and I’m relaxed. There is no pressure. I don’t think there is going to be extra variation added to Steve O’Keefe’s bowling (in Bangalore). He is the bowler that he is and we have to face him the best way possible as batsmen. We have to focus on our skills rather than look at what Australia is saying or what Australia is preparing. I know these mind games,” he said of the man of the match from Pune.
On the team selection, Kohli opted to remain cagey and maintained that the team management had two-three variations in mind but there wasn’t a concrete plan yet. “Hardik Pandya is not available for selection due to a niggle in his shoulder. Rest of the team is available for selection. I won’t reveal the team right now but we have two-three combinations in mind and we’ll see which one to go for depending on the surface,” he claimed.
Steve Smith continued his impressive showing against India with a 109-run knock in the second innings. This was his fifth ton against India and the first in the sub-continent. However, Kohli maintained there is no specific strategy to counter the Australia captain. “Our focus is not only on Steve Smith. The whole team has to play well against Australia and that is something that we’ve identified. We’re not focusing on one player at all. As I said in Pune, if we don’t make the most of our chances, it doesn’t matter how many runs someone ends up scoring. The whole 10 wickets have to be taken twice and that’s something we already know,” said Kohli.
Kohli remained positive about the next few games and opted to take the loss as a learning curve – not just for himself – for the team. “Sometimes when you end up winning a lot of games, you don’t tend to focus on points that need to be improved because someone or the other isn’t stepping up. The whole team has to execute the plans. We got to know a few things that we need to improve on as a team. And as I said, you cannot take things for granted at any stage during a Test match. It is something that you learn and are things that are important in your cricket journey,” he stated.
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