Hyderabad: A believer of the old adage that a captain is only as good as his team, Indian skipper Virat Kohli lauded his bowlers for their lion-hearted effort on a flat track against a spirited Bangladesh side.
India defeated Bangladesh by 208 runs in the one-off Test which lasted five days, beating expectations of an early finish owing to the visitors’ minnow status. The win also took India’s unbeaten streak to 19 Tests.
Asked how much has he improved over the 19 Tests that he has captained, Kohli said: “Honestly it is the players that make you the captain that you become. To be very honest, anyone knows how to set fields in the ground, it’s just that you have to make sure that you take up the responsibility of keeping the energy of the team up.”
“I look to push myself, throw myself around in the field so that other guys know that they also have to push for a wicket.”
“The bowlers know what they need to do but the fielders within the ring need to support the bowlers. I need to do that first, for the guys to show that energy. I have been able to maintain that and that has been a takeaway from the games that I have been captain so far. Lot of times, you know that there is only so much that you can do as a captain,” Kohli said in the post-match press conference.
Talk about the performance of the fast bowlers, Kohli seemed satisfied.
“Very good. Credit to our bowlers, they were able to get result on this kind of a track. Considering that the wicket was very good to bat on, it took a bit of patience for us to get wickets during Bangladesh first innings. I thought Umesh (Yadav), Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and Ishant Sharma were brilliant in the first innings but Umesh stood out,” he said.
“In the second innings, all three bowled really well but Ishant stood out. I have said in the post-match that quality of our spinners allows our fast bowlers to attack because of the way spinners bowl and contain runs, the pacers can really attack as soon as it starts reverse swinging.
“I thought today Ishant’s spell was really good, he bowled with pace and had to put in effort to take wickets at that stage and he took both the set batsmen out. That was really good for us,” he added.
Talking about his 19-match unbeaten streak as a captain, Kohli said: “I don’t think it’s because of me. I mean everyone at the international level wants to do well.
“We are playing as a team and that’s been the difference in this team, if you see, you can say probably 2016, I scored a lot of runs but before that in 2015 as well, we won a lot of matches. I didn’t score many runs but the other guys stepped up and scored runs.
“Ajinkya’s two tons in Delhi (vs South Africa) and second innings hundred in Sri Lanka, so there are quite a few instances, where all the members of the team have stepped up at some stage or the other. And that’s why we stand where we are and having that streak is not down to 2-3 people, it is a combined effort of all the guys.”
India have had exponents of reverse swing like Zaheer Khan but never have they had four fast bowlers, including the injured Mohammed Shami, who can all reverse the ball consistently.
“See Shami, Ishant and Umesh we all know that they have done it with the old ball, lot of times. I think with way Bhuvi has bowled all because of his fitness levels having increased, having more strength in body is being able to put more pace behind the ball which is key for reverse swing,” Kohli said.
“The other three guys have naturally more pace than him but I think he has really stepped up his game with the old ball as well,” he added.
Kohli said the variety of options is a positive for the team.
“Again as I said that gives us a lot of options, you wouldn’t hesitate playing Bhuvi on any sort of wickets if he keeps bowling like that with reverse swinging ball as well. Credit goes to Bhuvi, he has been working on that aspect as well.
“Shami, Umesh and Ishant have been outstanding with the old ball and provided us with crucial match-winning breakthroughs. It’s a great thing to have as a captain, with these players bowling well with new ball as well as old ball,” he said.
Kohli hinted that the Pune Stadium wicket for the first Test against Australia may be low and slow in nature.
“We will have to go and see what the Pune wicket is like. It is low and slow usually at this time of the year.
That’s what I have faced in IPL. It’s been dry, low and slow. This was a really good batting wicket, didn’t offer anything to the bowlers in the first couple of innings of the Test match. We have to see how the Pune wicket is but this was a decent enough wicket,” he explained.
Kohli seemed surprised that the wicket didn’t break till the fourth day.
“If it started turning on day 3, it would have been more like an Indian wicket but it went on well till the fourth day which was surprising,” he concluded.