Australia staged a remarkable comeback as they broke their ODI jinx in grand style with a win in the final game by 35 runs at the Feroz Shah Kotla on Wednesday. With this victory, Australia won a series in India after 10 years and registered an ODI bilateral series win after two years. Significantly, Australia won a series after trailing 0-2 for the first time in their history. This was India’s first loss at home since losing 2-3 against South Africa in 2015 but skipper Virat Kohli insisted that the team was not feeling down despite losing three consecutive games to squander a 2-0 series lead.
“They played better cricket and they deserved to win the last three game. First two games, we showed better composure. Australia has been more passionate, more energetic than us in pressure situations and they grabbed the crucial moments of the game better than us. That is the only breakdown I can give you of the last three games,” Kohli said in the post-match press conference following the end of the Delhi ODI.
The series loss against Australia has raised questions on the experimentation that the Indian cricket team undertook, resting MS Dhoni for the last two games and also rotating the other players in the squad as they looked to explore the depth of the squad heading into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019. However, Kohli was clear that the squad is settled and they wanted to do this in the last three games.
“Honestly saying, it does not feel as if something off has happened because we have been playing good cricket. None of the guys in the changing room are panicking. The support staff are not feeling down after this defeat because we knew the kind of things that we wanted to do in the last three games because purely after this it is the World Cup. As a side, we feel pretty balanced,” Kohli said.
Seizing crucial moments
In the Ranchi ODI, Australia put in an inspired all-round show as they withstood Virat Kohli’s brilliant onslaught to notch up a win. In Mohali, they were undone by the dew as they failed to defend 359 while in Delhi, Australia once again put up a wonderful performance with both bat and ball. When asked whether India were weighed down by misreading the conditions, Kohli stated that Australia simply played better cricket than India.
“We were not weighed down by our own conditions. Australia were more composed, positive and brave in the pressure situations and thus they won the crucial moments. When one capitalises on every important moment in the game, it gets very difficult to beat a side. The way how Australia batted in Mohali after the dismissal of Glenn Maxwell was simply outstanding. Even here and in Ranchi, the constant pressure and in the areas that they bowled forced us to play the kind of shots. Credit must be given where it is due. We were not up to the mark and they were,” Kohli said.
Kohli admitted that Australia had turned the tables on India similar to how they had done to the Aussies when India achieved their first-ever bilateral series win in January 2019 Down Under. “They played like how we played in Australia. We were brave in pressure situations in Australia. They had a series to lose at home and we just went out and expressed ourselves. Here, when they sensed that they had a foot in the door, they ensured they did not allow us to close the door. Full credit to them. They are an inexperienced side as compared to us,” Kohli said.
Despite the loss at home, when one looks at the broader picture, it has been a good season for India. They defeated the West Indies in all formats at home, won the ODI and Test series for the first time in Australia and broke a 10-year jinx in New Zealand by winning the ODI series 4-1. With two months of the IPL now dominating the lives of the Indian cricket players, Kohli said the players must enjoy themselves.
“Being on the road for months takes a toll. I am not using that as an excuse because you are expected to win every game you play as a team. When it is a long season, you do reflect on it. It has been a hectic season. We are proud of the season. We are happy with the way we have played, happy with the way the guys have come around and shown their ability as players. The confidence that we have carried is something good to see. From that point of view, we deserve to enjoy the IPL,” Kohli stated.
The 12th edition of the Indian Premier League will begin on March 23 with Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore taking on MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings at the MA Chidambaram stadium in Chennai.