Perth Test: We really believed we didn't need a spinner, says Virat Kohli
India captain defends decision to go with all-pace attack v Aus after Perth Test ends in 146-run loss; it's 1-1 going into Boxing Day Test
Virat Kohli has defended the strategy of playing four fast bowlers and no specialist spinner after India succumbed to a 146-run defeat to Australia in the second Test match of the four-match 2018-19 Border-Gavaskar Trophy whose scoreline reads 1-1.
It was only the third time in 25 years that India went into a Test without a frontline spinner. It was a baffling strategy given Australia's off-spinner Nathan Lyon claimed eight wickets in the match, including 5-67 in the first innings. Kohli defended the selection, stating the pitch had played exactly the way the team believed it would play and Australia playing better cricket led to India's defeat.
"If you see, the rough didn't have much assistance. It was just the pace of the ball that Lyon bowled which allowed him to get the wickets he got. We as a team didn't think we wanted to consider a spinning option on this pitch. "After having a look at the pitch on Day One and how we thought it would play on those first three days… it played exactly that way. We thought the fast bowlers would be more productive and most helpful for our team." he said. Asked about the decision to play Umesh Yadav over Bhuvneshwar Kumar despite there being grass on the surface, Kohli stated that it was the lack of match practice along with the fact that Umesh had taken 10 wickets in his previous match. This caused the selection of the speedster over the swing bowler.
The exclusion of Bhuvneshwar and Ravindra Jadeja meant that the Indian had a long tail, something Australia exposed here. In the first innings, the last four combined to add 31 while in the second innings they could only produce three runs. "It is a tricky decision to make – whether you a want depth or pick a fourth fast bowler. We arrived at a decision and we backed that decision. Whether it comes off or no is a different thing, but we were totally convinced as a team that was the best combination to go with and the batsmen had to take extra responsibility."
The other concern for India is the form of the opening pair — Murali Vijay and KL Rahul. Asked what advice can a skipper pass on to the players, Kohli said "You just have to keep backing them and telling them that they belong (to the set up). It is not about giving them individual goals, it is what we require as a team. I'm sure these guys have figured out what's gone wrong in this game and they are very keen to correct it themselves."
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