Virat Kohli : Want to make winning an habit


Team India Started the West Indies series with an emphatic win by an innings and 92 runs led by team captain, Virat Kohli who made his maiden double ton in international cricket.

Kohli's post-match press conference:

Victory in his first Test as coach, indeed a great gift for AnilKumble. What did he say?

There was nothing out of the ordinary. Having played for so long, I think he understands how the players feel about a victory. He congratulated everyone and gave special mention to the guys who made important contributions in the game. Might not be seen too much but those important breakthroughs, important moments are very crucial for the team to win. He understands that very nicely and he was obviously very happy with the victory. It's a great start for him. First game as coach and we end up winning by an innings. Very happy all round.

What were the moments that made the difference?
In the first innings four wickets each to Ishant and Shami, but the way Ishant bowled and Mishi (Amit Mishra) picking up those two wickets in the end also play an important role. Otherwise, you have to play the guys who have bowled a bulk of the bowling and tire them out more for those final two wickets. There is a guy who takes the wickets at the end, finishes off the game and helps the other bowlers stay fresh. Someone like Ishant maintained the pressure, the run rate did not go beyond two in the first innings. All those things count massively in the course of the game. This morning, Umesh getting one wicket for us, Ishant (got) an important breakthrough last evening. These are the moments that don't get much attention but they are very important to winning a Test match.

You set a very unorthodox field setting. What was your thought process as captain?

The one thing that I try to do is think as a batsman, which is very important. You can read a batsman's body language and figure out where he is trying to score his runs. Unless a guy is playing shots all round the wicket, because then it is very difficult to set a field. . But if someone is predominantly looking to set up, get in and score his runs one side of the wicket or not play a particular stroke then you pick up these things and set a field accordingly to make him do that. With Ashwin bowling today, we had long on back and a fielder at midwicket so that the guy looks for a single. As a batsman I know that if someone is trying to set me up for that, I will be hesitant in playing that shot, because the ball could stop and you could end up playing the ball in the air to a fielder who is in your face and can even take a half chance. It's all about getting into the batsman's head and creating that pressure to make him make that mistake. That's what Test cricket is all about. It's not just about what's happening with the bat or ball on the pitch, it's about what's happening in the head as well. It's about how you create momentum for the bowler and the environment around a batsman where he makes that mistake. That's where Test cricket is very different from other formats of the game, which I don't think people realise too much. That's the challenge for any cricketer in this format, to overcome this and do well. That's why it's so testing and so demanding of the players.

Umesh said team looked at 556 as a 350 score. Is that how you are psychologically leading the team?

Well yes, it's all about creating good habits. We know that any team can easily go easy on the opposition when you have 560-570 runs. But what's important is to still have the mindset of defending 350 even when you have 560. Because when you have a low score on the board, then that helps you repeat those things again and you don't have to do anything different to suddenly defend a small total.

It's all about creating good habits. It's very easy to give runs away easily, then you don't realize that you make bad habits along the way. You suddenly find out eventually when there's a very important moment in the game. You want to be consistent side, we need to set ourselves goals and look to execute that rather than looking at the opposition which I think this team is willing to do, which for me is a very, very pleasing thing as a captain and for the team as well. Everyone understands the way we want to play on the field - where we need to bat, how we need to bowl. We need to be comfortable with what the team requires and I think that's the most important for this team going forward.

Now that you have won the first, you think you are now in a better position to dominate?

Well yes, every game for us is a new game. We are not connecting the previous game to the next one. That's how you perform consistently. That's the whole idea. We want to win as many games in the series as possible.

If we have a chance to win 4-0, then why not. We don't need to get complacent. If we end up getting a 2-0 lead, it's not that we're playing for a draw in the next two Tests.We want to create winning habits, good habits. And you know, winning is contagious. As we know, if we learn to win Test matches, then we'll learn how to win Tests everywhere. We will learn how to play in different situations and we will know exactly what to do when a certain situation is going a certain way.

That's what we need to do. We need to look at every game as a fresh game and execute our plans and win as a team. Everyone is looking to contribute and that's the most important thing with this team. I certainly feel very positive going forward with the way we have played. Even before the Test matches we were really eager to begin the Test match because we had such a long practice period and preparation was really good. I could see the hunger of people wanting to go on the field and 'now's the time to do what we have practiced' so... we just want to continue doing the same.

Are there any areas of improvement, you feel?

I think a couple or areas with the bat we can improve especially is not losing wickets close to the breaks. I think we did that three times. Pujara was one, Shikhar was the other, just before tea and then myself soon after lunch on Day 2. See, these are the things, which if we have enough runs on the board and start scoring quickly, you tend to ignore these things. But I have that it in my mind pretty strongly because every team will want to challenge you strongly and will want to dry those runs out. So, you have to capitalise those important moments so that the team can't lose momentum and start scoring runs again. We've lost wickets in those moments previously. That's one area I still think need to tighten up a little bit more if you want to be in complete control of things in all the sessions that we play. We've done really well in this game, but that's one area we have addressed before and we certainly want to improve on.

This was a perfect win...If you look at it logically, that's probably the perfect finish, which every team looks for. The seamers usually dominate the first innings when you play away from home. The wicket tires out on day four and five. That's when the spinners come into play. In the first innings, spinners are taking couple of the breakthrough wickets. In the second innings fast bowlers are doing this for you and then the spinners will open it up again. I think it was a wonderful partnership bowling by all our bowlers in the two innings. And the batsmen as well.
We have spoken about one thing, that we have the skill and ability to declare innings more often than not rather than struggling to get to 350 with out lower order. So that's the kind of mindset we need to play with. You know when you start off with five batsmen, obviously you need to take more responsibilities. I think they are all good enough to do that. As I've said before we are not at a stage now where we need to come and improve. We should be ready enough in international cricket to start dominating Test matches and win those crucial situations and sessions. That's how we become a better team. If you think we are going to keep learning every series, learning every game, we will never get that hunger and that mindset to win games from difficult situations. We need to challenge ourselves a little bit, which this team has been willing to do and which is a wonderful sign. The way we finished the Test, it all panned out pretty nicely.

How would you summarize the Test match? What are the goals for the rest of the series?

To summarise, the preparation we had, coming here, understanding the conditions, adjusting - the time difference was a big factor at the start. Conditions were very humid, they were hot, and it helped us to get that time to practise. We got two weeks here, which helped us a lot. Everyone knew what we needed to do in the match, and we executed them as well, so you get good feedback from the management as a result, you feel good about your performance. You can't ask for anything better. You bat just once, and you bowl the opposition out twice. First the fast bowlers take wickets, then the spinners also take wickets, the catching was also good. It was a good Test match for us, and going forward in the series, we will want to keep playing this kind of cricket.

Do you think dismissing West Indies' tailenders is also an area you need to address as a team?

Yes, that's also an area where we, obviously, sometimes... that's an area we need to address, what you said was right. It also happens that you take the top-order wickets quickly, so you become a little desperate to keep taking wickets, and forget the things that got you those initial wickets. It becomes very important that the fielders also stay relaxed, don't get frustrated, and bowlers also don't get frustrated. It's important that we still keep bowling in consistent areas. If you're getting the pure batsmen out, you don't need to do anything different to get the tailenders out. That's one thing we'll have to play out smartly in the remaining Test matches, so that we save our energy, and don't end up bowling 8-10 extra overs, and if we get the tail out quickly, that's a good habit as well, so obviously we'll plan and see how we can do this. We'll look to keep playing the same kind of cricket, and if we get the opportunity to win each match, we'll try to win each match.

On fielding two consecutive days..

It was a very good effort from the bowlers, the good thing was that we didn't bowl that much in the first innings, so everyone's mindset in the second innings was, yes, we can bowl again. That becomes crucial, as I said, to have bowlers who can get you those one or two wickets at the end. Their role becomes big. If you end up bowling 15-20 extra overs, this doubt comes into your mind whether you can start [bowling again] or not.

I think [the first innings] ended at a perfect time for us last evening, and then we got 13-14 overs and got a wicket again, so it was good to get some rest in the evening, and the bowlers' attitude was very good, all of them voluntarily said, 'yes, we'll bowl'. And the spinners took the responsibility. They knew the fast bowlers had done a lot of bowling in the first innings, so we'll have to take that responsibility. Ashwin obviously bowled very well, and Mishra also bowled very well but didn't get wickets. But both kept the pressure on, and we talk about partnership bowling - that was a classic example, that the spinners didn't have to bowl that much in the first innings, but took the responsibility from the fast bowlers in the second innings, and did the job fully.

All in all, as a bowling unit, it was good execution, and the bowlers will be quite pleased with their performance, and as a captain I am pleased too, because they had no hesitation in putting in that effort again in the second innings. It becomes a question of attitude. If you think, yes, we'll get them out, then half your job is done. If you think, we'll see when we get there, then you stay in a 50-50 situation, so we wrapped it up today thanks to their conviction, and confidence in their own skills.

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