A proud Virat Kohli on Monday rated his team’s bowling performance in the fourth Test among top-three in his captaincy stint and extolled his players’ strong character as India produced a superb 157-run win after conceding a huge 99-run lead against England.
The Oval track did not offer much assistance to the fast bowlers but Jasprit Bumrah Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur shared seven wickets to bundle out England for 210, scripting India’s comprehensive 157-run win.
“This is among the top three bowling performances I have witnessed as India captain,” Kohli said with a big smile on his face during the presentation ceremony.
Kohli did not put much emphasis on the fact that it was a flat and placid track where his bowlers produced exceptional performance but hailed the strong character his players displayed after conceding a 99-run lead.
“It’s quite relative... what you call flat,” said Kohli. “The conditions were hot and we knew we were in with an opportunity when Jadeja was bowling in the rough. The bowlers were good with the reverse swing today. We believed we could get all 10 wickets, we had the belief.
He added: “Well, I think the best thing about both the games (Lord’s and Oval) has been the character the team has showed. We are not looking to survive in this game, we are here to win.”
Bumrah made a huge impact on the game with his spell in the second session of the day when he dismissed Ollie Pope (2) and Jonny Bairstow (0)
Kohli said it was Bumrah who wanted to have a go at the England bowlers at that time and delivered.
“As soon as the ball started reversing, Bumrah said give me the ball. He bowled that spell and swung the game in our favour with those two huge wickets,” he said.
For Kohli, the allround performance of Shardul Thakur was also key in his side’s emphatic win.
“You pointed to his performance. Rohit’s innings was fantastic. What Shardul has done in this game stands out. His two fifties deflated the opposition. He batted well in both the innings,” he said.
When pointed out that his decision to keep R Ashwin on the bench stood vindicated, Kohli explained his position.
“We never go towards analysis, statistics and numbers. We know what we need to focus on and we take a collective decision as a group. Whatever the noise on the outside, it doesn’t bother us.”
England skipper Joe Root too said that it was Bumrah’s spell that changed the game.
“Credit to India, they got the ball to reverse. I thought Bumrah’s spell was the real turning point of the game,” said the home captain.
“It is frustrating not to get something from the game today. We felt we had an opportunity to win. We could have made more of a first-innings lead, and you have to make chances count against world-class players.
“Got to find ways to get better but be realistic and realise that was world-class bowling.”
Rohit Sharma was adjudged Man-of-the-match for his 127-run knock in the second Indian innings. It was Rohit’s first hundred in an overseas Test series.
“I wanted to be on the field as much as I could. That hundred was special. We know how important was the second innings. Really glad that I could get the team into an important position.
“The three-figure mark wasn’t in my mind, we knew the pressure on the batting unit so we kept our heads down and batted the situation. Once we got the lead. We just wanted to put pressure on the bowlers.
“I know the importance of opening the innings. I am glad I could make it count.”
Rohit said they utilised the long break after losing the World Test Championship final against New Zealand to sharpen the skills and it showed in this Test series.
“It’s always important to embrace the challenge, it’s not going to be easy. Back in Durham we had time off to look at our training and technique and after the World Test Championship final, we had 20-25 days, that was a real gamechanger,” he said.
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