Virat Kohli dismissed suggestions that India were complacent and in a comfort zone during their second innings in Adelaide against Australia, where they collapsed to 36 all out, their lowest score in Test cricket. Kohli slammed such notions and explained that the reason for their collapse, and the eight-wicket loss, was lack of intent from the batsmen.
“There is no comfort zone at the international level, there is no comfort zone in training, there is no comfort zone in preparation. So, people who want to relate this to comfort zone should really have a reality check that it’s pressure, not a comfort zone. Having played for so long I can definitely tell you straight up," Kohli said in the post-match press conference.
“They bowled similar lengths in the first innings. We were handling it better then and had a plan around it. We knew how we wanted to go about things. A bit of a lead can be very tricky. As a batting unit you can go into a headspace where you feel like you are just 50-60 runs ahead, and you don’t want to lose early wickets. That thinking allows the opposition to come into the game. You always have to be positive. You can’t afford to be like that.
“I said that we lacked intent because we probably should have seen where the game needs to go rather than where it has come till now. The batsmen needed to keep moving the game forward which they weren’t able to do. I think the way we batted allowed them to look more potent than they probably were in the morning because they bowled similar lengths in the first innings as well and we batted way, way better in the first innings than we did in the second innings.
“You have to think that I have to take this game forward and have to play extremely solid. Defensively, you could be sound, feeling comfortable. Whenever I have batted in such situations, individually I have always gone ahead with plans that in this kind of a situation if we score 30-40 runs quickly, we can take the game forward. Those things always matter. You can make as many team plans as you can but in these important moments, individuals have to go forward with their own mindset. The match goes towards the win with this. We showed lack of intent and if the opposition gets that sense then they can completely put you under pressure."
Kohli also rued India’s drop catches, saying Australia got off the hook particularly after dropping Tim Paine, the eventual Man of the Match. India dropped four catches including one of skipper and man-of-the-match Tim Paine, who was dropped by Mayank Agarwal at deep square leg. Australia were 111 for 7 at that time with Paine on 26. The Aussie skipper went on to make 73 not out and took the team to 191, within 53 runs of India’s total.
“It was very crucial. I think they were seven down for 110 (111) if I am not wrong when Tim Paine offered a chance and then he got 70-odd… even Marnus Labuschagne survived a couple of chances. So look, in Test cricket you have to take your chances when they come your way because they can be very, very costly and we realised that the repercussion of not taking the chances can be very harsh and in Test cricket, teams will not offer you opportunities again and again and you have to take when they come your way and try and capitalise…. That definitely would have been a boost for us if we had a lead of a few more runs and with over a 100-run lead (in first innings) followed by a decent batting effort… then the opposition begins panicking."
Kohli added that mental fatigue was not a factor, and was confident the team would only go up from here even in his absence.
“I don’t think so. We have played enough cricket to understand what needs to be done at different stages in a Test match. Yeah, it is just lack of execution. It is just the lack of executing the plan that is apt for the situation which is — Day 3 is to move the game forward. It is called the moving day, drive home the advantage with a lead of 62 with which we arrived today with nine wickets in hand. We should definitely have put in a stronger batting performance. So I don’t think there is any mental fatigue involved. I think this is the first Test of the series. So that is not the factor.
“I am pretty confident that the team is going to bounce back in Melbourne, and a few of the guys are going to realise their true character and how they can step up . I am very, very confident that we will definitely learn from this. I don’t think we ever had a worse batting performance. We can only go upwards from here and understand that as a team we can do special things when we think of partnerships and batting together. I very, very confident that we will bounce back strongly in the next one. I have no doubts at all on that. You will see guys stepping up and realising their true character and doing the job for the team."