Virat Kohli’s post-match comments are never complete without some apportioning of blame and on this occasion, his unfortunate targets were his second-string spinners – and although he went on to praise England’s batting, it all had the feel of a backhanded compliment.
He could not hide his disappointment with Shahbaz Nadeem, the slow left-armer, and Washington Sundar, the off spinner, calling them out for a lack of control and seemingly unappreciative that both were playing only their second Tests.
While Ravi Ashwin was garnering records by the dozen as he took nine wickets in the match, Sundar in particular was a disappointment, going wicketless and at almost four runs an over in the England first innings and being entrusted with only one over in their second; Shabhaz may feel a little more pained to have been singled out – although he was slightly more expensive than Sundar, he got through a lot more work and at least picked up four wickets
“As a bowling unit, we didn’t bowl well collectively,” Kohli complained. “If you consider the fast bowlers and Ashwin, then yes, we bowled consistently and in good areas. But if Washi and Shahbaz had also bowled such economical spells, then you create more pressure, you cut out 80-90 runs from the opposition.”
Asked to share his thoughts on England’s first innings he said: “It was a pretty slow wicket with not much happening in the first two days with the ball. You have to give credit where it’s due and we have to understand the things that we’ve done decently in this game. England played far more professionally.
“Test cricket is a grind. England were ready for the grind and were far more equipped.”
India’s captain also highlighted some areas for improvement in his side after the 227-run defeat, focusing particularly on their body language and intensity.
“Firstly start off with good body language, understand the fields, and at the end of the day it’s the mindset,” he said. “We’re a side that always improves and knows how to bounce back.”
That India will come back strong was a theme that Kohli’s opposite number was keen to highlight. Joe Root, fresh from leading England to a sixth successive win in Asia, pointed out: “They are a proud nation with some exceptional players who will be hurting and want to prove a point. They will come back hard at us.”
He also agreed that the toss and batting first had been an advantage but stressed that that should not detract from a great effort from his side. “The toss was going to be crucial but from that point it was really crucial that we exploited that. We speak about batting long and we did that brilliantly well.
“We were in control of the game and to then bowl India out in that manner was fabulous. It was a really pleasing performance and fills us with confidence.”
He also took the time to directly address criticism of his decision not to declare on the fourth day: “The idea was to get to 400,” he said. “It didn’t quite materialise like that. But having spent some time out there, I knew the wicket had changed drastically and knew it was going to change again.
“We wanted to take India’s win out of the equation. As a bowling group we didn’t want to worry about the run rate.”
There is no doubt that cricketing megaminds, Michael Vaughan and Shane Warne, will soon be announcing to Twitter that they may have called that one wrong.
Jack is the host of The Cricket Podcast
Jingle by Jeff Perkins