After suffering his heaviest defeat – to England at Lord’s – as Test skipper, Virat Kohli, on Sunday, said India should be “better than that”.
India lost the second of the five-Test series by an innings and 159-run just after tea on the fourth day.
Yet in a fixture marred by rain – Thursday’s first day was completely washed out – India were effectively defeated inside two standard days’ playing time.
Their batsmen were left helpless as Joe Root’s attack, led by spearhead James Anderson, made the most of the overcast and typically English swing-friendly conditions, with India dismissed for just 107 and 130.
Significantly, India’s two innings were completed in 82.2 overs, while England batted just the once, making 396 for seven declared in 88.1 overs.
India, for all they are number one in the Test rankings, have long faced accusations they are ‘lions at home and lambs abroad’. In the past five years, they have won just one of their six previous Test series outside of Asia – and that was against a struggling West Indies.
‘no technical flaws’
Meanwhile this latest reverse meant India had won a mere six of their 59 Tests in England. Despite India’s repeated struggles against the moving ball, Kohli denied that his side’s frequent collapses were down to technical flaws: “I don’t see any technical deficiency. If a batsman is clear in the head, and about the plans he’s taking, then if the ball does something off the pitch, you’re able to counter it,” Kohli said.
“If my head’s clouded then I feel like the ball can do this, or that, or even that. You know there are three-four scenarios that run in your head. It sounds like a cliche but as the greats have said, keep this game simple, that’s all you have to do. You can’t come here and think the conditions are too difficult because they are really not if you’re prepared to counter them.”
The India skipper said the demons in the head have to be conquered. “Any conditions in the world can be easy or as difficult. In India, if you’re not mentally there it seems like the ball is doing a whole lot, even when it’s not.”
‘We should be better than that’
But regardless of scheduling concerns, Kohli said India had to improve on a Lord’s batting display where number eight Ravichandran Ashwin, primarily an off-spinner, top-scored in both their innings with 29 and 33 not out.
“It’s our job and our duty to play for the country, and we should be better than that,” insisted Kohli, the number one-ranked batsman in both Tests and one-day internationals.
“Unless you accept that, you can’t improve and compete. We have to accept what we did wrong – mistakes have been made – and not repeat them again.”
He added: “Credit has to go to England who were clinical with the bat, ball and in the field. They deserved to win and we deserved to lose.”
Asked if the conditions had favoured the opposition, Kohli said, “We can’t really think about those things. You have to counter the conditions as and when they come to you. Sometimes the rub of the green will go your way too.
“We will not sit around and say that we didn’t have the best of conditions. Their bowlers were relentless with the ball. Looking at things now, the weather was so unpredictable,” he added.
‘Combination was a bit off’
Asked if inclusion of an extra seamer would have been better, he said, “Yeah looking back, I think we got the combination a bit off.”
Kohli was clearly struggling with a stiff back on Sunday, the injury seeing him bat at number five rather than his usual number four position.
And he received prolonged on-field treatment before he was dismissed by Stuart Broad for 17.
“As of yesterday (Saturday) it was not great,” said Kohli, who scored 200 runs including an innings of 149, his maiden Test century in England, during India’s 31-run defeat in the series-opener at Edgbaston.
But Kohli was optimistic he would be fit for the third Test in Nottingham starting Saturday.
“The back is one thing that can be very tricky...but the good thing is I have five days before the next Test,” he said. “We are confident I should be ready.”
(Inputs from AFP and PTI)