The only thing that matters to Kohli is the result
WHILE the Proteas chose to keep quiet and not comment on the nature of the wickets as the losing side, India captain Virat Kohli and his team have continually faced questions about the skewed surfaces prepared during the Test series.
“It doesn’t really matter,” Kohli snapped, in the aftermath of his side’s 124run win, which ensured his first Test series win as skipper.
“People can talk about it, people can choose not to talk about it. Fact is that we have won the series and we have won two Test matches. That is not going to change, however many articles are written about the pitch, however many are written about our batting, or undue advantage for our spinners. It doesn’t matter.”
The manner in which Kohli said it, though, suggested that it was a sticky point, that his first Test series win will forever have an asterisk, with a footnote describing the pages upon pages that have been dedicated to deriding the pitch.
Never in a modern Test series – even in India – has the pitch been such an unrelenting focal point. And it is no coincidence that Kohli and his star spinner Ravichandran Ashwin – the most regular visitors to the press conferences – have vehemently denied an unfair advantage.
“It is the conditions that you get in India, otherwise you will just play Test matches which will get you 500 runs in an innings. You don’t create bowlers like that, you don’t win Test matches like that,” Kohli countered.
“The key is to win Test matches. I have said this before, wherever you go to play in the world, you got to be prepared to face those conditions and tune your game accordingly. Today was a classic example of two guys applying themselves and showing that it can be done,” he said of Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis’ vigil.
The point that was made, even while Amla and Du Plessis were batting, was that they were merely existing and hardly threatening India. To score runs and to stick around are two different things, and those fundamentals could not be garnered simultaneously at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium yesterday.
“I don’t feel that way. We have never complained when we had challenging conditions, and won’t complain in the future either,” Kohli continued, fuming that his first notable success had been tainted by the furore over dustbowls.
“At the end of the day, results matter and that’s why we play this game – to win games. That’s exactly what has happened. We’ve won the series, we’ve sealed it here and we are very happy about that.”
The manner in which Kohli and Amla ended their press conferences was revealing, both to their character as well as to their team ethos.
Kohli left bristling, and with an air of “to hell with the haters” about him. They’ve won, by hook or by crook, and no one can take it away. Amla, meanwhile, spoke of his side’s desire to be men of honour, in defeat or in delight. Although they left Nagpur defeated, their handling of that demise, their dignified silence amidst the screams of justification from India, spoke volumes.
The series may be over as a contest, but what goes around does tend to come around in world cricket. Kohli and his men, winners on the pitch but spoilers off it, would do well to remember that.