Virat Kohli, the Indian Test captain, spoke of his disappointment over missing out on a golden opportunity to win a Test series in South Africa following his side’s loss in Cape Town.
India have never won a red-ball series in South Africa but expectations were high as they went into the series on the back of terrific performances in Australia and England. But defeats in the final two Tests consigned Kohli and his side to a 2-1 series defeat.
“Obviously we are disappointed. When you know that you can win the series and when you know that you have the chance to beat South Africa in South Africa, and you are not able to do that, disappointment is obvious,” Kohli said.
“That’s a very natural part of sport and more so for a team that is so driven, and so eager to win anywhere in the world. Having done that as well now, it’s even more disappointing to know that we didn’t get the result we wanted. But that’s a part of sport. You have to accept it, move on and get better,” he added.
On Rishabh Pant
Rishabh Pant scored a brilliant century in the third innings of the series decider to give his side a chance of winning the match. He walked in to bat with India four down for 58 and bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 100 off just 139 deliveries. Kohli was also involved in a crucial 94-run stand with Pant and thus saw that innings from close quarters.
“It was a high-quality knock, given the conditions, the situation and the kind of bowling that was on display. That’s the kind of talent he possesses,” the Indian captain said.
"It’s up to him to keep learning from the mistakes that happen because we understand what he can do for the team on a regular basis considering the quality he has both as a batter and a wicket-keeper.
“He is a special talent and can do special things. It was a tremendous knock, one of the better hundreds that I have seen.”
The Future of Pujara and Rahane
Kohli spoke about how India’s batters had failed to collectively deliver during the series, but refused to be drawn on the futures of experienced pair Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane.
Rahane was dismissed for scores of nine and one in the two innings in Cape Town, and averaged 22.66 in the series, while Pujara averaged 20.66 over the course of the three Tests.
“To answer this question, I can't sit here and talk about what's going to happen in the future. That's not for me to sit here and discuss. You have to speak to the selectors to find out what they have in mind, that's not my job," Kohli said in the post-match press conference.
"As I said before and I will say again, we have continued to back Cheteshwar and Ajinkya because of the kind of players they are and what they have done in Test cricket over the years. They have done well in crucial situations, you saw that in the second Test as well with that important partnership in the second innings which got us to a total that we could fight for," he added.
"These are the kind of performances that we recognise as a team. What the selectors have in mind and what they decide to do, I obviously can't comment on that at this moment, sitting here."
Looking Forward to the ODI Matches
Having lost the Test series 2-1, India will now shift their attention towards the upcoming ODI series, starting January 19. And Kohli says he is looking forward to the series and wants to put his best foot forward.
“We are obviously very driven to perform in any match we play for India, and as an individual I can say that I am looking forward to the ODI series,” Kohli asserted.
“I am driven to perform in the ODI games and I don’t think that anyone is going to take whatever happened in this Test match, more so in the second innings, to the ODI series. We didn’t get mauled. Make no mistake, we were competitive throughout the series. Even in the last two Test matches that we lost, they (South Africa) had to work very hard and earn those victories. It’s not like we threw in the towel and gave victories away.
“So, we are quite aware of that and if we capitalize on key moments in any format of the game, we have enough quality in our side to keep winning matches consistently.”
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