What matters is the attitude the team play with, said Virat Kohli as he conceded that England, as the team that snatched the key moments, deserved to win the Test series 4-1.
The last day of the five-match series started at The Oval with India 58/3 in their second innings in a chase of 464. It was just a matter of time, most people would have thought, especially when it became 121/5, but KL Rahul and Rishabh Pant decided to take charge, and how!
Rahul, who had opened the innings, scored 149, and Pant, from No.7, hit 114 as they added 204 runs for the sixth wicket to give India a faint hope of drawing the match, if not win it. It didn’t happen. Once the breakthrough came, there were more, and India went down by 118 runs to concede the series 4-1.
India did compete at various points in the games they lost – with the exception of the second Test at Lord’s – but failed to capitalise on the big moments.
“What matters to me is the kind of attitude you play cricket with. We said at the end of the fourth game that we won't throw in the towel and we didn't,” said Kohli after the end of the series.
“A lot of teams in the past basically have given up but we did not do so ... look, we don't think like people on the outside. I have said before. And this kind of series shows you the kind of character of individuals (in the Indian team).
“I see that as an opportunity and not adversity because if you keep winning all the time a lot of faults are swept under the carpet, you don't realise the faults you need to work on and I certainly haven't played my cricket like that.”
Even as the Indian batting, with the exception of Kohli, often failed to come good as a unit, the pacers did exceedingly well. But, as good as they were, they failed to go through the lower order on more than one occasion, the likes of Sam Curran, Jos Buttler and Chris Woakes, in the main, thwarting the plans time and again.
If you are competing in every game, and you have an upper hand in every game at some stage or the other, you are doing something right
“We created pressure, we were not able to hold that pressure for long enough with the bat and the ball,” conceded Kohli. “At crucial stages, we could not keep that pressure on for long, and that is why they took advantage of those situations better than us.
“We understand why this series has gone the way it has, to be honest we don't see a massive portion that we need to correct, because if you are competing in every game, and you have an upper hand in every game at some stage or the other, you are doing something right.”
England deserved to win, Kohli agreed, but added that the scoreline shouldn’t convince people that India can’t play overseas.
“They deserved to win because they played better than us, that is how we look at this series, we do not look at this series as something that makes us think we can't play in overseas conditions. Of course we can play, but can we capitalise on the important moments better than the opposition? At the moment, no, we haven't done that, but in future, we want to do that, and that is the only way we win series,” he said.
“Our aim is to win series, not to win the odd Test match and be happy about it, we are definitely not happy about the way the series has gone, but the way we played cricket is something that, not me, no one in the change room, no one doubts even one per cent, because we played with the right attitude and the will to win every game that we played.”