India captain Virat Kohli blamed the falling of wickets in heaps as the major reason for his side’s 72-run loss in the first Test against South Africa in Cape Town on Monday (January 8).
“Well in hindsight, we lost by 70-odd, if we had taken chances in the first innings, they would have been 220,” said Kohli in the post-match presentation. “Losing wickets in bunches we something have to plug in. We were in the game for the three days and it was a wonderful match to be part of. We would have taken that if someone told 208 would be the target.”
An impressive first session on Day 4 from the bowlers restricted the opposition to just 130, setting a target of 208 with five sessions remaining. But despite two promising stands – Murali Vijay and Shikhar Dhawan’s 30 and Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s 32, India were not able to keep Vernon Philander and the other bowlers at bay, bundling out for 135 runs in the second innings. Ravichandran Ashwin and Bhuvneshwar Kumar added 49 runs for the seventh wicket but Philander ended the stand and the innings in four balls to give South Africa the lead in the three-match series.
“It was a great effort but we needed someone to get a 75 or 80. 20s or 30s were not enough. They were a bowler short (Dale Steyn) but they pitched the balls in the right areas and bowled their hearts out. We need to rectify our mistakes also,” the captain said.
India had an outside chance of winning the game thanks to the crucial 99-run partnership between Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the first innings. Not having a similar substantial partnership in the second innings cost the side the game, Kohli admitted.
“This game is all about partnerships, and crucial runs, and they did better. The bowlers learnt pretty quickly and did well in the second innings. We are still feeling good about how we went about this Test match. The mindset really matters when you travel away from home. You need to be positive in defence and leaving, and cash in on scoring”
The skipper was all praise for his all-rounder Hardik Pandya. The 24-year-old’s selection at Cape Town was questioned by many, but his 93 runs in the first innings coupled with his bowling efforts has nearly made him undroppable for the next two Tests.
“We believe in Pandya. He always wants to do well, even away from home. He showed a lot of character and the knock was brilliant.”