India captain also refused to focus on struggling individuals
India will not be demoralised. They actually like to be in such situations. Situations where the whole world doubts them. So said Virat Kohli after the innings defeat to England at Headingley. The captain also insisted that this was not the time to look at individual players’ numbers but at their contributions and how they can put the team in good positions.
“If what happens in one game guarantees you the same thing the next game, we should have smashed England again [after the win at Lord’s],” Kohli said. “It didn’t happen. We like to be in this situation where people start coming at us with doubts and start questioning our ability. That is the situation we love best. We will not be demoralised by this loss. The guys in the changing room are hurt. When you are hurt, you really want to correct the things that did not go our way. That is the way we will play the next two Tests.”
India have a middle order that has been averaging in the 20s over the last two years and their No. 6 has been repeating the same style of dismissal since the World Test Championship final. Kohli, though, refused to focus on the struggling individuals.
“As a batting group, we failed in this game in the first innings,” Kohli said. “Second innings we did a better job. As a bowling group also, we accept we are not consistent enough. That’s it. I know what happens when we lose one game. I have said this in the past so many times that we are not going to fall into this trap where we start picking on issues or one or two things to talk about. We fail as a team, and we win as a team.”
When asked if Rishabh Pant was batting one station ahead of where he should be, Kohli brought up the example of Cheteshwar Pujara‘s return to runs. “With one loss I cannot assess or start analysing that as captain,” he said. “Definitely the management is not going to start that either. We are not failing consistently as a team. Yes we failed this game and we take responsibility for that.
“Similar conversations were being initiated about Pujara as well, which seem to have disappeared after yesterday. We want to give Rishabh all the space to play his game and understand situations and take responsibility like is expected of everyone else in the batting order. You can’t judge people all the time on numbers and whether they are succeeding or failing. That is not how you make a team. There is still time in this series. After two more Test matches, we can look back and analyse, ‘okay these are the areas that were not quite right,’ but right now is not the time.
“This game has been kind of an aberration in how we have gone this series. First two games, we put ourselves in a position where we won one game and had the opportunity to win the first one as well. We analyse ourselves as a team and not [individual] numbers. That all happens on the outside. Whether we are helping to build partnerships and putting the team in good positions is our only focus. There is no connect between the focuses on the outside and focuses within the group.”
Kohli sought to take the heat off the batting group. “They have done that [understand the situation and find ways to score runs] in the first two games,” he said. “And even in this game, batsmen got in good positions to play a big knock. We were not able to do that but that doesn’t mean we will not be able to do that. When you step onto the field, you are not looking to prove to people that you can play. You obviously want to do the best you can and play big innings. The reason why we won the second Test or were in a position to win the first was because guys stepped up and got the job done for the team.
“The things we need to reflect on are the mistakes that happened. As I have said in the past, when we have lost, we have played sessions that have been way below par… not up to the standard that we know we can play. Those are the areas that we need to plug in. Like this morning, we need to look at how we can control that tide and find ways out of difficult situations. These are the only things. You cannot become a bad team overnight. If a win doesn’t guarantee you a win in the next game, a loss too doesn’t guarantee anything. It all depends on your mindset. I can assure you that we will arrive [at the Oval for the next Test on Thursday] with a lot more determination and intensity than we did in this game.”
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo