Could do better with new ball: Kohli
Colombo, Sep 19: Virat Kohli was the chief architect of India’s victory against Afghanistan in a keenly contested encounter at the R. Premdasa Stadium. Coming in at No.3, the youngster played a gritty knock and held the innings together after India lost their openers early. His half-century helped set up a 23-run victory for the Men in Blue in their first match of the 2012 ICC World Twenty20.
Speaking at the post-match press-conference, Kohli discussed India’s bowling woes and the form of their openers.
On his good form
I am not thinking about it. I take it one game at a time and try to score as many runs as possible for the team. It is more important that the team wins and the efforts are always towards that end. I don’t think about personal targets and achievements. I try and play according to the situation and the more my batting benefits the team the better it is.
On the form of the openers and whether there is a possibility of rotating them
I believe that in Twenty20 if you play with one particular team composition, it benefits the team. If you change the composition, and it doesn’t work, than it leaves a negative impact on the team according to me, especially in the batting department. In the bowling department, you can experiment in T20.
A batting order is set, but, if the top three batsmen get big scores, then you can change the batting order lower down in the innings. But changing the combination otherwise is not good according to me. Besides, in Twenty20 you don’t need an 80-90-run opening stand; a 40-45-run start is required in T20. Only one match has been played so far and the kind of openers we have, they are capable of giving us a good start at a good pace on their day.
On whether the team’s performance was satisfactory
In the Twenty20 format, if the batting or bowling is not up to the mark, then the poor run stretches to two-three games. You need one innings or one spell to change things. But I think we could have done better with the new ball. The wicket was good, there wasn’t much swing but we could have bowled in better areas and could have won the match with a bigger margin.
It was good wicket and they had nothing to lose, so that too is a big factor, which is not discussed much. When you are playing against a team that is ranked lower, they have nothing to lose, so they will go all out when they come out to bowl and the same applies to their batting. They will come out and play their shots and if they can execute it, then it is a problem for the bowling side. There are these factors, but I think we could have done better overall.
On the outfield
I don’t think there was any problem in the outfield. There was dew on the outfield, so there was no problem while diving. The little problem that their players faced was that they got cramps or hamstring pulls I think. The outfield has changed a bit. It was more even earlier and now it is a bit bumpy. But a lot of matches have been played here and the SLPL was also played here and it has rained during that period, so maybe that has tampered it a bit. I don’t think it is so bad that you can’t dive. I think it was fair for both the teams.
On whether he was worried about the outcome at any stage
I wasn’t worried at all at any point of time. It was just about staying calm in tricky situations and making sure you get back to good situations and lay a platform for people coming in bat to get some big shots in. To get a decent score on the board you don’t need to go blazing all out in every game, especially against a side like Afghanistan who has nothing to lose, you have to be more careful and see to it that the team wins rather than going out there and being overconfident and taking them lightly. I didn’t think at any point that we will lose the game, but a few situations didn’t go according to plan and that was a bit disturbing.
On how much more difficult will it get for the bowling unit as the tournament progresses
I am hoping that it was just a case of playing against a side, which has nothing to lose. I am hoping that against a bigger opposition we will turn out in a more positive way as far as our bowling is concerned. Be more aggressive, execute our plans properly and be better geared up for stronger oppositions. I am hoping that we will put up a better bowling show.
On whether opening is a concern and the fact the Afghanistan too could have done better if they hadn’t dropped catches. If so, is that a concern against England?
We might score 200 against England. We have to play good cricket again. Catches do get dropped and you do get boundaries off inside edges that pass by the stumps. It is part and parcel of the game. You can’t just say that had the catches been taken we would have lost the game and such things. We have won the game and the scorecard shows that. We have to come out and play positively against England and put in a better performance.
On the pitch
It was a slow wicket. While playing on it, I thought it was better suited for spinners who could vary their pace and not so much for the fast bowlers. The fast bowlers had to be very clever in what they wanted to do. [They would have to] pitch the slower bowls in the right areas because the outfield was quick and the wicket was flat as far as the fast bowlers are concerned. Overall it was a good batting track, which was on the slower side.
On whether the bowling form of premium fast bowlers is a concern
Our bowling initially hasn’t been that bad. I think that we started well. Even against New Zealand we had started well. We need to work on our bowling in the death overs. If someone is getting hit in the last over, you can’t say that he is not bowling well at all. I think he is bowling well with the new ball. Our bowlers need to work a bit more on bowling in the death overs, which has been a concern till now. I hope that we can pull our socks up and be ready for stronger oppositions and do much better than we did in this game.