By Sa’adi Thawfeeq
Indian captain Virat Kohli expressed satisfaction the way his team bounced back from the defeat at Galle to come back and beat Sri Lanka in the second Test at the P Sara Oval and square the three-Test series one-all.
“If you win six sessions in a game, you expect your side to win the game. The Galle defeat hurt us in that way. It’s a commendable effort by all the boys, to regroup so well after the loss like that knowing that we should have won the game,” said Kohli at the post-match press conference.
“It’s a tremendous effort to get yourself together, put yourself in and play the same way again. To capitalise and improve on the same situation that we failed to in the first Test shows the guys are keen to improve and hungry to win. As a captain that is very satisfying.”
Kohli admitted that he was pleased to see bowlers getting 20 wickets than batsmen scoring hundreds. Spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Amrit Mishra accounted for 14 of the 20 wickets as India swept to a 278-run win.
“That’s usually been the case for a very long time to have someone getting the runs. The session we had in the first innings where we literally squeezed them was one of the best bowling session I’ve been part of with this Indian cricket team,” said Kohli.
“In the past two years, that was easily our best bowling effort as a group, especially in terms of partnerships. I’m very happy to see the bowlers playing their roles; people are not getting desperate for wickets. If you look at Ishant’s (Sharma) spell today, the second spell he gave just five runs in four overs with two maidens. He was in no rush to go out and start taking wickets. He was just helping Ashwin to create more pressure by bowling those maidens from the other end.
“That’s the understanding they are creating amongst themselves. I’m really happy for them and in a game like today, we actually closed it off very convincingly. That actually gives them more confidence. Next time they go around, they will go with the belief they can take crucial wickets.”
With injuries to openers Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan who have returned home, Kohli said Cheteswar Pujara would be given the opener’s slot for the third and deciding Test starting at the SSC on August 28.
“Looking at these conditions, the reason behind getting someone like Karun Nair in was we can make Pujara open. He is pretty solid, and with the new-ball he has opened in the subcontinent before. I remember a couple of Tests where he has opened for India. That was the whole idea behind picking him,” said Kohli.
“Another exciting guy is Karun Nair coming in. He’s scored a lot of runs in the last season, pretty gutsy player, pretty expressive with his cricket really delighted to have him in the squad. The idea behind it was getting Pujara to open along with (Lokesh) Rahul and then that gives us even more batting options to play around with.”
Paying tribute to off-spinner Ravichand Ashwin, Kohli said, “He’s been a champion bowler for us. He’s been taking wickets for us everywhere. Even in the tour of Australia, he was more aggressive with the ball. He wants to improve on his cricket and he has certainly done that.
“Even in his mindset, he’s bowling in a more aggressive manner. It’s almost impossible to get him away. Even for the right hander with the ball spinning into you, it should be an easier angle, even those players he is confusing them at the moment. He’s bowling beautifully right now and I’m glad to see him with this kind of mindset, attacking the batsmen all the time, bowling attacking lines all the time. Obviously it’s an asset to have a spinner of such great quality in the team. And with the attacking mindset he, it’s an asset any captain would love to have in his team.”