Livid Virat Kohli asks media ‘what’s the best XI’ after series loss vs South Africa

An irate India captain Virat Kohli lost his cool in a fiery media session after the series defeat against South Africa, his first as full-time captain.

cricket Updated: Jan 17, 2018 20:38 IST
Somshuvra Laha
Somshuvra Laha
Hindustan Times, Centurion
India vs South Africa,Virat Kohli,India national cricket team
The Virat Kohli-led India lost by 135 runs in the second Test against South Africa to lose the three-match series on Wednesday.(BCCI )

Virat Kohli, India captain, was visibly devastated after the 135-run loss in Centurion but he refused to accept that they had not gone in with the best XI here. Asked to chase 287, India couldn’t even make it past the first session after a series of irresponsible shots but Kohli still felt they had the right players to win this series. (HIGHLIGHTS)

“What’s the best XI?,” asked Kohli in response to a query if they had fielded the best team at Centurion. “Was it your best XI?,” he was asked again. “But if we had won this, was this the best XI?,” Kohli questioned back. (SCORES)

“I’m saying that we don’t decide XI according to the results. The loss obviously hurts. But you make one decision and you back it. We certainly don’t sit here and say, ‘oh if you fail in one game you are not good enough to be at this level or...’. Didn’t we lose in India? We had the best XI there,” retorted Kohli, almost leading to a verbal standoff with at the press conference after India’s defeat.

(Read | Lungi Ngidi gives India batsmen a hiding at Centurion, says he just ‘stuck to basics’)

“Whoever plays should be good enough to go out there and do the job for the team. That’s why we’ve got such a big squad. Because we believe in their abilities and they are good enough to be at this level but you need to do that collectively as a team. You can’t pinpoint and say this is the best XI. We played with teams before that have looked really strong and have lost as well. So, I certainly don’t bend towards that opinion at all,” he said.

Kohli however admitted they should have applied themselves better on a pitch considered more Indian than South African.

(Read | We knew anything over 250 would be challenging for India: Faf du Plessis)

“Teams have beaten us also at home at times but these conditions are something that we are used to playing at and we should have certainly done better than what have. Having said that it’s about which team plays collectively better and as I mentioned quite a few times already that South Africa collectively were a much better team than us regardless of pitches we played on. Their bowlers put relentless pressure on us as a batting unit, and their batsmen as well, after losing a few wickets, they would string in a partnership. They showed more character than us,” he said.

(Read | South Africa fined for slow over-rate against India in Centurion Test)

India’s miserable overseas record continues after losing this series 2-0 and Kohli put this down to the team’s inability to play together.

“Look, everyone wants to perform everywhere. I don’t know whether people think about those things too early or because when we came here last time we batted well. This time around we haven’t batted well as a unit. We bowled well, we didn’t bowl as well last time but this time we have bowled better. But what’s annoying is that it hasn’t come together at one time which obviously South Africa has done and that’s how you win Test matches. That’s the most hurtful thing that both skills are not coming together at the right time, including fielding. They were far superior than us in the field. All three things have come together well in tough situations to be able to win Test matches and series which we have failed,” he said.

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When asked about the constant chopping and changing in the team, Kohli asked the reporter, “How many Tests have we won out of the 31? 21 wins. Two losses,” he said. When asked how many of them were won in India, Virat said, “It doesn’t matter. Wherever we play we try to do our best. I’m here to answer your questions, not to fight with you.”

India came into this series as the No 1 Test side but their performance has been far from it. Having lost this series, Kohli still believes they are the top side. “Look we have to believe we are the best side. If we don’t believe that there is no point in coming here. We have not come here to participate,” said Kohli before going back to the reporter who had asked him about the constant changes in the team.

“How many times did South Africa come close to winning games in India? We are not complaining about Cape Town. The game was finished in three days, one was a washout. Look. We are not complaining about pitches, we are not complaining about conditions. We had equal opportunities to win in both games and that’s the positive we can take out of this. I’m not sitting here comforting my guys. I don’t know what you are listening to but I’m asking everyone to be hard on themselves.”

First Published: Jan 17, 2018 20:07 IST