Calcutta: Virat Kohli’s fabulous batting in both the innings of the Wanderers Test won him the Man of the Match award, on Sunday. His 119 and 96 were statement-making, announcing the maturity and grit of the 25-year old.
Kohli was surprised that South Africa played defensively towards the end and didn’t go for a victory when only 16 runs were required of the last three overs. “Everyone was pretty shocked… We didn’t think that they would stop going for the target… With Philander striking the ball pretty well, I don’t know what happened. We had our plans and that was going for the wickets, but to see them not going for the target was pretty surprising for all of us,” Kohli said at the post-match media conference.
Speaking about the day’s play, Kohli said: “It was a weird situation to be in… Today’s play, from the beginning, was sort of strange, full of ups and downs through out the day. We got two wickets early in the first session and we though that another couple of wickets in the second session would have been perfect for us… But AB (de Villiers) and Faf (du Plessis) batted brilliantly, especially Faf. To bat under pressure like that shows so much character… It was pretty amazing and shows how good a player he is.”
Explaining how unpredictable the day was, Kohli said: “AB has always been a world-class player and he stood up for his team once again… Both of them batted brilliantly. But that inside edge of AB just opened up things for us… Then when we got JP (Duminy) out, we thought we will win the game… And then Vernon came and struck a few boundaries and we thought we were on the backfoot again. However, when we ran out Faf we thought we will win again.”
“It was just too much going on in the end… A very enjoyable Test match. I think it was a fair finish for this Test. The way this Test match has been played over the last four days has been pretty competitive, with both teams coming back pretty strongly in one session or the other. For Kohli, cricket was the ultimate winner. “Cricket has won,” he said.
On the Indian team’s highly impressive performance, Kohli said: “The kind of team that we have now, we can be proud of how we played this Test. The guys have showed character all through and we dominated four days of the Test match… On the last day, they played well and it almost went their way and that’s how cricket goes. But this team never backs off.”
Terming the team’s hunger as the biggest plus point, he said: “Every single person in this team is hungry to go out there and win a game for the country… That is the biggest factor that has changed the way we have played in the last one year. Everyone is desperate to go out there and perform. That’s what this team believes in, that we can win from any situation. We have done that before...
“I think it is a group of smart cricketers who are inexperienced but who are very desperate to go out and perform. The mood is brilliant and everyone is confident and we are happy with the way we played…,” he said.
Kohli also doffed his hat to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for the way he marshalled his resources. “It was a very tricky situation because if you are going for wickets and the first two deliveries are edged for four, then your plans change totally for the third ball. It is a pretty tough situation to be in and I feel sorry for the captain who is in that sort of a situation…
“MS was pretty good in handling that and that’s his biggest quality, his calmness in those situations and he never lets the guys believe that the things are going into a desperate mode. He kept the guys calm and we knew one or two mistakes were going to open up things… We lost it a bit when AB and Faf were batting, but we came back,” Kohli said.