IND vs SA: Angry Virat Kohli lashes out at media: How many times has South Africa won in India?

Updated: 18 January, 2018 14:59 IST | Anand Vasu | Centurion

Skipper snaps at media while being grilled in post-match press conference after Test series defeat in Centurion

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli does not believe that he should have to answer tough questions, even when India have lost in dramatic fashion. At the SuperSport Park here yesterday, Kohli could not hide his anger when asked about whether he had picked the best eleven for the two Tests, a reference to Ajinkya Rahane being benched. The exchange that followed was prickly.

Q: Last couple of years playing in subcontinent conditions, you got a formula to excel on pitches like these. How much does this loss hurt that despite having that formula you could perhaps not get the best XI out and win this match?
Kohli: What's the best XI?

Q: Was it your best XI?
Kohli: But if we had won this, was this the best XI?

Q: Again... it's a pitch that was much more subcontinental...
Kohli: I'm saying that we don't decide XI according to the results.

Q: My question was about the pitch...
Kohli: But you're saying... you're telling me we could have played the best XI. So you tell me the best XI and we'll play that. The loss obviously hurts. You make one decision and back it. We certainly don't sit here and say, 'Oh if you fail in one game you are not good enough to be at this level or...' Whoever plays should be good enough to go out there and do the job. If that was not enough, Kohli got downright snappy when asked about India's massive success at home and total failure overseas.

Q: There is talk of India doing well in India but not overseas. Do you still believe you're the best side in the world?
Kohli: Look, we have to believe that we are the best side. Even when we came here, if you don't have the belief that you can win the series here, there is no point coming here. We have not come here just to participate. And answering your question sir, how many times did South Africa come into the game in India? Coming close to winning games in India? Can you count?


Q: That's because of the pitches.
Kohli: But we are not complaining about Cape Town either. The game was finished in three days, one [day] was a washout. So look, we are not complaining about pitches, we are not complaining about conditions. I'm not sitting here comforting my guys. So I don't know what you are listening to, but I'm asking everyone to be hard on themselves.

Since 2011, India have played 24 Tests in England, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand. They have won one of these matches and lost 17. Either Kohli does not know these numbers, or he thinks the rest of the world doesn't. Either way, it's hard to see this team redressing the balance till they accept their frailties.

Q: You spoke about it not coming together well — has that maybe been because of the chopping and changing of selection? In over 30 Tests that you have been captain, you have changed your starting line-up in each and every Test you have played? To win Test matches you need consistency, and you have been lacking that part. What would you put that down to, and how would you say that you will continue changing your team and still expect different results?
Kohli: How many Test matches have we won out of 34?

Q: In how many have you changed the XI?
Kohli: How many have we won? How many have we won? 21 wins. Two losses. How many draws? [In fact, Kohli has won 20 as captain and lost five, out of 34 he had led in]

Q: How many in India?
Kohli: Does it matter? Wherever we play we try to do our best. I'm here to answer your questions, not to fight with you.

And yet, what Kohli did, was pick a fight. The Indian captain needs to understand that when his team lose a Test on a spicy pitch in Newlands inside three days and then lose by 135 runs on a pitch that played to all the visitors' strengths, questions will be asked. And the most appropriate response is to take ownership of the lack of performance, not pick fights.

And, this was not the only time Kohli was downright abrasive. He refused to be criticised for dropping Ajinkya Rahane, who only averages 53 outside the subcontinent, he lives in a bubble where the Indian team is actually the best in the world. In reality, it is only the No. 1 ranked team, based on a flawed system that allows a team to garner points by playing largely at home, or away against weak Sri Lanka and West Indies teams for a period of 18 months.

Cheteshwar Pujara, who has grown up placing a premium on his wicket, committed the cardinal sin of running himself out twice in one Test. Hardik Pandya, the next great hope in Indian cricket, played at balls he should have left alone and gifted his wicket away. As for the tail, the less said the better, but you can hardly blame the bowlers. They did the job, picking up 20 wickets once more while the batting millionaires went AWOL. If India want to win abroad, they first need to accept that something is wrong. Then comes the harder processes of identifying just what and the blood, sweat and tears that goes into becoming true champions.

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First Published: 18 January, 2018 14:50 IST

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