Sydney: He is quite proud of the "character and composure" that the Indian cricket team showed in the lost Test series against Australia but skipper Virat Kohli on Saturday made it clear that fighting spirit alone cannot make up for the side's poor bowling, which needs to improve "big time".
Mohammed Shami during the first Test at Adelaide Oval last month. The pacer conceded 537 runs in three Tests at an economy rate of 4.24. Pic/AFP
The Indians lost the four-match series 0-2. "There are certain negatives which we want to improve on and at the international level there is a lot for us to improve seeing how the Australians bowled. We need to improve big time on that," Kohli said after fourth Test, which ended in a draw here on Saturday.
20 wickets, the key
Asked if this was going to be his prerogative as Test skipper, Kohli said it was impossible to win matches without having the wherewithal to grab 20 wickets. "To win Test matches you need to take 20 wickets. The reason we have done well at home is we have taken 20 wickets.
The spinners have bowled really well. The fast bowlers know how to bowl in home conditions with reverse-swing and they have a fair idea of the areas they have to bowl in. But when we come out, they get too excited with the bounce," he explained.
Chasing a stiff target of 349 for a win, India started off well but suffered a dramatic collapse in the post tea session to just about eke out a draw by finishing on 252-7 in 89.5 overs on an absorbing fifth day's play at the SGC.
India were comfortably placed at 160 for two at tea and needed 189 runs off 33 overs for a win in the final session. The complexion of the game changed completely after the tea break with Murali Vijay (80), in-form captain Virat Kohli (46), Suresh Raina (0) and Wriddhiman Saha (0) and R Ashwin (1) departing in quick succession to give Australia a sniff of victory.
But Ajinkya Rahane (38 not out) and Bhuvaneswar Kumar (20 not out) played out almost 12 tense overs to save the game for the Indians, who were badly let down by their wayward bowlers right through the series.
'Wasn't easy to bat'
"The team showed a lot of character especially in the second innings when I thought the wicket wasn't easy to bat on. The guys stood there and dug it out and pulled out a draw which is satisfying as of now. But still at a certain stage I thought we could go after the target and it was worth taking that risk. We are not coming back here for a while so there is no point not trying," Kohli added.
Indian skipper Virat Kohli. Pic/AFP
Murali Vijay got a half-century before 40s from Kohli himself and Ajinkya Rahane made it appear as if India would go for an improbable chase in the last session. But a few wickets fell quickly and they had to settle for a draw.
"The first intention was to go for the target. But I think we didn't get the kind of momentum we got in Adelaide because of the way Australia bowled. We couldn't keep up with the asking rate and it eventually went up to six and a half in the end.
"When Vijay got a half century, we started feeling it might be possible if we do have wickets in hand in the last hour. But then he got out, yet me and Ajinkya played some shots and we felt we could cash in on the situation. But then I got out and we had to hang in there. Credit to Australia for bowling the way they did throughout the innings and made it very difficult for us," he said.