LONDON: India captain Virat Kohli conceded that team combination was “a bit off” in the lost second Test against England and urged his struggling batsmen to “keep it simple” in the head to save the ongoing series.
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“I think we got the combination a bit off before the game. We have a chance to correct that next game. (At) Two-nil down the only option is to come out positive, make it 2-1 and make it an exciting series from there,” Kohli said after the team lost by an innings and 159 runs to be 0-2 down in the five-match series.
India could only make 107 and 130 in the second Test and will need to avoid a loss in the third game — due to start on August 18 in Nottingham — to stay alive.
Kohli reiterated that his batsmen’s problem is more mental than technical.
“I don’t see any technical deficiency. If a batsman is clear in the head and he’s clear about the plans he’s taking, then if the ball does something off the pitch, you’re able to counter it,” said Kohli at the post-match media interaction.
“If my head’s clouded then I feel like the ball can do this, or that, or even that. You know there are three-four scenarios that run in your head. It sounds cliched but as the greats have said, keep this game simple, that’s all you have to do. You can’t come here and think the conditions are too difficult because they are really not if you’re prepared to counter them.
The weather also did not favour India, who batted in overcast conditions while England scored their runs in bright sunshine on day three.
“A lot of people are talking about the conditions, that we batted during a difficult time. On the day that was good, we had to bowl. And again, today was overcast and we had to bat. If we think about these things, we won’t be able to plan for the future.
“There is nothing to be gained from thinking about what has happened and thinking what if. Going ahead in this series, we need to look at the mistakes we’ve made in this game and correct them. A sportsman has no other options,” felt the captain.
Bowlers did well in the series opener but were not consistent enough at Lord’s, he said.
“You can’t control the toss or the weather. We didn’t play good cricket in this game. We bowled well in the beginning but didn’t hit our areas consistently. We didn’t get enough chances in the field to miss any, but with bat and ball we could have done much better than we did.”
During the second innings, Kohli batted at number five as his back problems resurfaced. The star batsman was hopeful that he would be fit in time for the next match.
“Back is one thing that can be very tricky when it goes off. It happened during the latter half of the last leg of the South Africa tour when I missed a T20 game because that was very sudden. It happened one day before. The good thing is I have five days before the next Test.
“We are confident with rehab and strengthening I should be ready for the next game although not (with) the same intensity in the field. But I should be good enough to hold a position in the field and be 100 per cent with the bat.
“Again I will have to look at the running bit of things, which was difficult today. As of now it is sore. I am not hiding that fact, but that is part of the game. I had to do what I could do to go there, bat again and try my best,” said the skipper.
There are problems across the board for India, as their openers failed in both Birmingham and Lord’s, while barring Kohli, the middle-order didn’t turn up either. Kohli said that no particular batsman could be blamed for this failure.
“Right now, it’s not purely thinking that the openers haven’t fired or the middle order hasn’t done well, because as a batting unit, we haven’t done well in this game as a whole.
“It’s very difficult to pinpoint anyone. All we have to do is gear up for the next game, come out positive and not think about that I’ve done well…It’s all about making the team win, and doing anything that we can to make that happen.”
When asked if the Indian batting is too dependent on him, the skipper replied, “We definitely as a team don’t and can’t think from that point of view. No one’s doing anyone a favour by going out there and performing. It’s our job to do that and it’s a duty we’ve been given.
“What we did in this game – we should definitely be better than that. I’m the first one to come out and accept that because unless you accept your mistake you can’t improve on it. Because this is the first time in the last 5 Tests that we’ve been really outplayed.”
This loss allows them an extra day of contemplation, albeit it will be tough to overturn a 2-0 deficit in the series.
“We are only thinking about the fact that we do have the bowling attack to pick up 20 wickets and as batsmen we should think of that as an opportunity to score runs, and make the team win games.
“What’s been sad is that we haven’t had those two skills coming together. I don’t think it’s unfortunate totally because you can’t rely on fortune and luck in every game that you play,” said Kohli.