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India vs Australia | Kohli Justifies Four-Pacer Strategy, Backs Under-Fire Openers

Cricketnext Staff | December 19, 2018, 3:32 PM IST

Following the 146-run loss to Australia in the second Test in Perth, India captain Virat Kohli asserted that picking a spinner was not an option his team was exploring at the start of the game.

In the absence of the injured R Ashwin, India went in with four pacers on what seemed like a green track. However, the move didn't work well Umesh Yadav, the fourth pacer, bagged only 2 wickets for 139 runs in the game. The lone spinner in the Australian side, Nathan Lyon, bagged the Man of the Match award for picking eight wickets.

"We as a team didn't think we definitely wanted to consider a spinner on this pitch, especially looking at the pitch on day one and how we thought it would play the first three days, which is how it did play," he said at the press conference.

"We thought the fast bowlers were going to be more productive for us as a team. They executed their plans to 95 percent of what we expected and you can be happy with that.We were pretty convinced going in with four fast bowlers, looking at the conditions, and I think they did pretty well."

Kohli said Umesh's last Test saw him claim 10 wickets against Windies in October, while pointing out that Bhuvneshwar Kumar had not played much red-ball cricket recently.

Kohli conceded the decision weakened their batting line-up, but said India expected the top order to take more responsibility.

"Obviously Ashwin or Jadeja have more ability with the bat," Kohli said. "It is a very tricky decision to make, what bowling option do you go with or do you want that guy to contribute with the bat.

"We backed that decision and went with it, we were totally convinced it was our best combination and the batsmen have to take responsibility."

The India captain also backed the struggling opening duo of M Vijay and KL Rahul to regain form.

"You just have to keep backing them and telling them that they belong and they're good enough to perform," he said. "It's not even giving them individual goals, it's about telling them this is what is what we require as a team from the openers and this is the role.

"As a batting group, we have spoken about these things. Executing them or not is again a thing of variables in a sport when you have a guy who's bowling at you. I'm sure these guys have figured out what's gone wrong and they're keen to correct it themselves. There's not much to say, it's about being confident as a side ad believe that the roles will be fulfilled. Obviously the individuals should take responsibility for that, and the guys are looking forward to it."

Australia captain Tim Paine called his first Test victory as skipper as a ‘big relief’. The Australian bowlers took out the remaining five Indian wickets conceding just 38 runs within the first hour of the morning session, and registered their first Test win since the ball-tampering scandal.

"It's a big relief, because the first Test win has taken a while,” Paine said at the post-match presentation. “We have been getting better over the last few months and I think this is a reward.

“It was a great contest, because the ball was flying through here. The roller had a real effect in the morning because it had settled the pitch down but we knew we could open up the game later with our bowlers.

“We had our fingers crossed and chose to bat. Khawaja has been batting really well for a long time. He is in a really good space. It's great to have Lyon in our team. Every team would want to have him in their team.”

Lyon, who finished with 8 for 102, was happy to help his side level the series.

"It is amazing to play a role in helping the team victory,” said the off-spinner. “It's pretty fair to say we have been in drought, and to wrap up their tail pretty quickly was special.

"My role changed a fair bit to a more attacking role in Adelaide to a defending role here. Virat is the number one player in the world, and to compete against him and to be able to take his wicket is pretty special. (Rishabh) Pant is a wonderful striker of the ball, he's a special talent and it's always a great challenge to bowl to him."

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

Pos Team P W L T/NR PTS NRR
1
IND
9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
2
AUS
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
3
ENG
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
4
NZ
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
5
PAK
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
6
SL
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
7
SA
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
8
BAN
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9
WI
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
10
AFG
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more