Virat Kohli felt vindicated in his assessment that India came close to winning in the first two Tests of this series after a “sweet” win in Johannesburg that “will be remembered for a long time”. India’s captain compared the win with Lord’s 2014, but insisted this was more special because he felt nobody had backed his side to go the distance.
“Lord’s was very special because we were playing on a similar sort of pitch; not as fast as this, but it was very challenging and we had won there because of our batting efforts and the bowlers coming together well,” Kohli said. “So, we had to show character in this game, and step up not for anyone else but for the belief of the team. When no one is believing in you, no one’s backing you, it’s very important to back yourselves as individuals.
“So we never really cared about what people are saying about us. We knew that if we play well together as a team, we can win here, and we felt we were close in the first two games also but didn’t close off games well, and sessions well. Yeah, the batting really showed courage, and took that challenge head on as I mentioned before, and the results were there to see. And the bowlers were outstanding throughout the series, and even now, taking 20 wickets and doing the job for us, it feels really well.”
Kohli said this win could have a massive impact on the progress of this team. “It could be a massive milestone for us,” Kohli said. “We already had the belief but now we have the result to back it up. We certainly believe that any conditions we are given we certainly have it in our abilities to think about winning Test matches. Yes we will lose some but we will end up winning a lot as well. This day will be remembered for a long time as a team. I believe that, and the whole team believes that. The mood in the change room is amazing right now. And you know the guys are looking forward to repeating this much more in conditions that are not ours.”
“It could be a massive milestone for us. We already had the belief but now we have the result to back it up”
One of the biggest credits to this team in this Test is they wanted to be there, and they were not wary of batsmen having to face the difficult conditions first up despite being under pressure. “I can say or write anything about anyone but when you’re in there, facing their bowling attack on that sort of a wicket, and then when you decide to bat first, you need to be sure and you need to have belief in yourself,” Kohli said of the decision to bat first. “So, we certainly back ourselves as a team, and that’s something we have done throughout this tour. Yes, we were disappointed things did not come together in the first two games but we are really proud of this effort.”
There was concern if India would get the chance to finish the job off after play was suspended 19 minutes before stumps on day three. “We played out two innings, we got hit at numerous occasions and we did not make anything of it,” Kohli said. “You know, we carried on. We knew we were going to be hit but you need to show character, you cannot say that it’s tough or doing too much. We are playing in Johannesburg not in India, so we had to come out here and deal with what was given to us and we have dealt with it pretty well. I wasn’t concerned at all because the ball was in South Africa’s court. They had to make a decision. Our decision was to play at all times, and that didn’t change through the course of four days.”
That the win came on such a pitch gave Kohli the extra satisfaction. “When we saw the pitch, we knew it was going to be an equal chance for both sides,” he said. “We decided to take the challenge head on. So it feels really, really satisfying to have won on a pitch that was supposed to have pace and bounce, and it did and it played to our advantage.”