Series is set up nicely now, says Virat Kohli

Series is set up nicely now, says Virat Kohli

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BIRMINGHAM: “Where is Kohli gone? We have James Anderson,” the Barmy Army sang in front of the Indian team bus which was about the leave the stadium. The jubilation in the English ranks was justified after three-and-a-half days of tense battle.

From the point of view of the Indian fan though, this defeat was difficult to digest, especially after coming so close. The Indian team, though, believes there is a silver lining here. “Yes, we would have liked to finish on the winning side, but there are a lot of things we can feel proud of at the end of this game,” India’s premier offie R Ashwin said at the end of the match.

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While Ashwin himself was one of the bright spots in the Indian performance with seven wickets in the match, pace bowlers Ishant Sharma and Mohammad Shami did a decent job too.

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The contest could very well have earned the tag of the ‘Virat Test’ had India had gone on to win, but the skipper took it in his stride. “The series is set up nicely now. The fact that we didn’t play to our potential at all and were still close in the game says everything about us as a side. If we pull ourselves together and play even 80-85% of the cricket we are capable of, then it’s going to be a very exciting and competitive series,” Kohli said.

Ashwin echoed his skipper’s sentiments when he said, “We competed really well, made two comebacks and probably didn’t close out the game when the initiative was on our side. That’s something that can happen when you are travelling, so we are upbeat about it.”

The batting, other than Kohli, was a disappointment, but Ashwin stood behind his unit insisting that “it was a tough pitch to bat on”. “I don’t think the batsmen from both sides were able to make runs with a lot of freedom, barring the partnership between Joe Root and Johnnie Bairstow on the first innings, and then Virat from our side. It has been quite a struggle that way, so I think we need to give batsmen some space,” Ashwin said.

Virat showed the world that the demons of Test cricket in England are a thing of the past. In face of intense scrutiny, the skipper managed 200 runs and he said he would have rated his first innings ton as his best if the team had gone on to win the Test.

But the captain tried to play down the hype around his century, even though it was his first in England. “It’s just like any hundred I score. Earlier, I used to think about playing in different conditions, different countries. But when you become captain it’s about taking your team across the line. When the focus is on the larger picture, these things don’t matter – you are able to bat longer than you would’ve done otherwise.”

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