Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli will be chasing history when he leads his side against West Indies in the third Test starting on August 9 at St Lucia. India have never beaten West Indies in their own backyard by a scoreline better than 1-0. Ajit Wadekar, Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni, the only Indian captains who have won a Test series in the Caribbean, achieved the feat with a scoreline of 1-0. The Indian team leads four-match series by 1-0 and Kohli can create history by winning the next match. Speaking to the media on the eve of the match, the dashing batsman spoke on various issued ranging from the playing condition, team selection and much more.
On the playing condition:
I had a look at the pitch yesterday. It looks pretty similar to Antigua. Even grass covering. The surface should harden up. I think they didn’t have too much time to water it and roll it because of the rain. But it should become pretty hard. We’ve known this wicket to have a lot of bounce and carry. That’s a good sign for the bowlers. All five days you have chance to pick up wickets. It doesn’t slow down too much, which is a very good sign and looks like a wicket where a result is very much possible.
On whether he is disappointed after failing to win the last match:
It turned out to be more challenging on day five (in Jamaica). We know that we had the upper hand throughout. We know that if we had play on day four, we would have probably wrapped up things, the way we were going. The momentum was with us. That’s one of the very good examples of how momentum is a massive factor in cricket, in all formats, especially in Test cricket. We saw that with the Test in England as well, Pakistan going really well but one session can change the whole game. That’s what momentum does and that can only be attained by playing consistent cricket. We did that over a period of three days, we got the momentum, we were dominating, but you don’t have control over the weather and conditions. On day five, it was a very good batting effort by West Indies, they applied themselves very well. Not taking anything away from our bowlers. They tried their best. Very rarely do you see the ball not reversing, not swinging conventionally and the pitch slowing down. When these three things come together, and the batsmen are applying themselves, it’s very difficult to take wickets. It was a really good test for the bowlers. These situations will come again. We have taken positives and learnings from Day 5 and will apply those going forward in these Tests.
On Vijay, Rahul selection scenario:
Cricket is a very uncertain game at times. Injuries are not in anyone’s hands. Even in the IPL, I remember a game where Mandeep Singh was fit and set to play. While I was at the toss he split his webbing, KL (Rahul) got a chance and he hasn’t looked back since. We conveyed to Mandeep that unfortunately it was an injury and nothing can be done about that. We need to look at the balance of the side. Good thing is all three openers are playing well. Bad thing is that you can only choose two between three. That is a call we need to take as management. We’ll sit down today and do that. These things are not in your hands, getting injured when playing well. That’s why they say injuries can really upset people and bring them down. The good thing is Vijay has been in a good head-space. He’s back to the nets and back to fielding. We’ll take a call on that. We still have to discuss that.
On the pitch:
I am someone who doesn’t look at the pitch. I’ll have a brief look and then figure out how the pitch might play. You can never be certain about the pitch. But I think Anil (Kumble)bhai is doing a very good job. I think bowlers have a better idea of it because they understand exactly with the feel of the soil that how much it’s going to seam or how much carry it would have or the bounce of the wicket.
Anil bhai is very good at understating and reading the pitch, like how it will behave on the third fourth and fifth days. I think that’s more important because getting 10 wickets in the second innings is very important and we can pick the bowlers who could be effective on the third, fourth and fifth day. The first two days will be more or less the same everywhere. Other bowlers too have a great idea but Anil bhai is very accurate with that (reading of the pitch).
On the lessons learnt from the last game:
Even in a draw, you get different scenarios there are some draws where you survive [a difficult situation], there are some draws where the other team survives. We were in the second kind of position, and from that we need to take quite a few positives for the coming games, because the amount of assistance that was there in the wicket on day five, we know that even if we get 10-15% more assistance, we will come out on top in those sessions and those situations. So it’s important for us to understand that we played very good cricket for four days, and on that last day, which was the most important, West Indies showed resistance. And from that we have learned that we shouldn’t doubt our ability going forward, because, while people might say our bowlers weren’t able to take wickets, we are very quick to criticise bowlers, but even if one or two innings go badly for a batsman, we say he still has a chance [of coming good]. So I think our bowlers have realised we have taken 36 wickets in four innings, and even going forward we are good enough to take 20 wickets in every match, and win matches for the side. They are in a good zone, they have good confidence, and we have understood which team was on top in that draw. And we discussed this yesterday, and we are aware that we have to play the same kind of cricket going forward.
Absolutely. We watch the Olympics every evening, we follow it whenever we get some time. And my favourite event I really like swimming, I like diving, and obviously track and field is everyone’s most favourite event. We were also discussing that we’re travelling on the 14th, and Bolt is running on the 14th, and we don’t want to miss it, so we have been trying to figure out the timings, and a lot of us have already planned, we will land at this time, we will reach the hotel at this time, and immediately we’ll watch. Obviously, an event like this, as athletes, obviously we’re not Olympic athletes, but as athletes we obviously have a keen interest, and there’s a totally different level of excitement for an event like this.