Opinions may be divided on whether India missed a specialist spinner in the Perth Test and even pacer Mohammad Shami, in his personal capacity, felt the need for one. But skipper Virat Kohli insisted that the team management’s decision to go with an all-pace attack was well thought out and it was not the decision but the execution that went wrong.
Speaking to reporters after India suffered a 146-run loss on day 5 with off spinner Nathan Lyon claiming eight wickets in the match for Australia, Kohli said the team management was clear that they wanted to go with an all-pace attack after seeing the pitch on day one and it played exactly the way they had anticipated it would play for the first three days.
“I mean the rough didn’t have much assistance. It was just the pace of the ball that Lyon bowled with, that he got the wickets that he got,” said Kohli, who leaving the question about whether the team combination would have changed had off-spinner R Ashwin been available for selection.
Ashwin was ruled out of the second Test due to injury and India opted to leave out Ravindra Jadeja from the final XI.
Kohli admitted that the choice of going ahead with Umesh Yadav instead of Jadeja meant that the tail was slightly longer and the batsmen had to take more responsibility under the circumstances.
“Yes, you can think like that [long tail]. I mean you obviously have two situations that you can think of when you pick another fast bowler. Obviously Ashwin is or Jadeja have more ability with the bat, we all know that. So it’s a very tricky decision to make. What kind of a bowling option you want to go with or you want to think whether that guy needs to contribute with the bat as well or not.
“So eventually you come to one decision and we backed that decision and went ahead with. Whether it comes off or not that’s a different thing. But we were totally convinced as a team that that was out best combination to go with and then the batsmen had to take responsibility. There are lot of variables that can happen during the course of a cricket match but before that you have to have clarity as to what you want to do and I think as a side we were totally clear that this is the combination we want,” said Kohli, who had gone ahead with a similar attack against South Africa in the last Test at Johannesburg which India won.
Kohli also refused to answer a question on the future of the two openers – KL Rahul and M Vijay – despite their repeated failures and the selectors deciding to fly in Mayank Agarwal for the next two Tests.
But when asked to elaborate on what kind of chat he would like to have with the openers before the next Test, Kohli said, “Well you just have to keep backing them and tell them that they belong and that they are good enough to perform (for the country). I mean it is not about even giving someone individual goals. It’s just telling them that this is what we require as a team from the openers and this is the role that needs to be fulfilled. And I think as a batting group, we have spoken about a lot of those things.
“Executing it or not is again a thing of variables in a sport where you are up against a guy who is bowling a bowl at you. And at a time you can get out or you can survive or you can play a big innings or you can’t. I am sure these guys have figured out what’s gone wrong in this game specially and they are very keen to correct themselves. So there is not much to be said honestly.
“You have to be confident as a side and believe that the role that is given that will be fulfilled. Obviously individuals to a certain extent will have to take responsibility of that, which the guys are looking forward to taking responsibility,” he added.