AFTER INDIA lost the first Test in Cape Town by 72 runs, captain Virat Kohli said he really liked the pitch, which gave both teams a chance to win. Instead, he put the blame on his batsmen for not being able to string together partnerships in their pursuit of 208 on the fourth day.
I don’t think there was any lack of preparation. Even they got out for 130 in the second innings and they play here all the time. It was a wicket where things were happening. I think we let ourselves down with the bat, that’s for sure. Losing wickets in bunches never helps winning Tests. 208 (target) felt chaseable, but again we needed someone to go out there and get 75 or 80 and not 20-25-30 runs. We wanted one big partnership to get the job done, which we failed to do.
Of course, 20 wickets to win a Test match is the priority. But if your batsmen don’t bat well then it doesn’t matter if you have taken 20 wickets or not. We needed to bat better than what we did. Hardik (Pandya) showed great character in the first innings to get us to that total. If we had them 50 or 60 less in the first innings, things could have been different. We needed to show more character with the bat, there is no question about it.
On the pitch
The pitch was outstanding. I really liked the wicket. I think it was great for Test cricket — getting a result in four days despite losing a day’s play. Both sides were in the game at different stages, so I think as a team we really enjoyed being part of this Test match. I think it’s a great way to start the series.
On Rahane’s exclusion
Rohit has scored runs in the last three Test matches that he has played, and he was batting well, even in the series against Sri Lanka. Look, these things can always be looked at in hindsight. But we decided to go with this combination and current form was definitely the criterion.
On Indian bowling
We had a chat this morning and we wanted people step up and get us wickets. Jasprit (Bumrah) bowled beautifully in his first Test match. Shami bowled his heart out, Bhuvi was good as well. They will be gutted about the loss. At the same time, they know that they can repeat that performance, and if we get a lively wicket again we can exploit those conditions. Having said that, we need to bat better.