India captain Virat Kohli credited his teammates for the application they showed with the bat — and also praised the crowd at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium — during the second Test against England that the host won by 317 runs on Tuesday and levelled the four-match series 1-1.
“We were on the money this game in terms of body language and what we wanted to do on the field. The crowd makes a massive different and you push more as a team when the fans are behind you. This game is an example of the grit and determination we’ve shown as a side and we continue to do that — and the fans’ support is a big part of that,” said Kohli at the post-match prize distribution ceremony.
“The conditions were challenging for both sides, but we showed more application, determination, and grit to battle it out. We didn’t panic looking at the turn and bounce on the pitch, trusted our defence and got into the game. We scored close to 600 runs in the two innings and if you put up that kind of a batting performance and string in those partnerships, we know we have got the bowlers to do the job in home conditions,” said Kohli.
The pitch at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium has drawn polarised reactions from pundits and former players, with several people saying that it was “not fit” for a five-day Test match.
Kohli, who won the toss and chose to bat first, said on Tuesday that winning the toss didn’t matter unlike what was the case in the first Test in which England won the toss and that helped them cash in on batting-friendly conditions on the first two days and eventually win the match.
“I don’t think the toss would’ve mattered much on this pitch, and we believed we could score runs in the second innings and got almost 300. Both teams had to apply themselves and that’s what you want in Test cricket, whether it be on spinning or seaming tracks with a lot of grass on it,” he said.
Kohli also credited debutant left-arm spinner Axar Patel and wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant for their performances. Axar took five wickets in the second innings, including that of England captain Joe Root, to lead India to victory on Tuesday. Root was one of the two batsmen that Axar dismissed in the first innings.
“It’s a special — a special moment for Axar. He’d have played the first game too if not for a niggle. He bowls fast and is all smiles and, hopefully, he builds it here from here on, have a strong couple of games going forward so that he can be in the mix to play Test cricket always,” said Kohli.
While Pant continued his good form with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 58 in India’s first innings, he was also impressive with the wicketkeeping gloves. He took two stunning catches on the third day and effected a sharp stumping of Dan Lawrence off the bowling of Ravichandran Ashwin on Day 4.
“Look, Pant has really worked hard in Australia and the difference when he moves with the gloves, you can see in his reflexes and reactions. He has shed a lot of weight in Australia and it shows in the way he kept wickets on a pitch that has so much turn and bounce. We want him to get stronger with his skill sets as a wicketkeeper because we know how much value he adds to the team,” said Kohli.