Southampton: The Indian team put up a brave front while trying to explain their narrow 11 runs win over a spirited Afghanistan team.
Kohli attributed the win to the self-belief of his team and said the win was special for his team. "This is right up there (as a win). You win the toss, and you decide to bat and then you see the wicket slow down. You think 260 or 270 would be a good total. Then at the halfway stage, we had our doubts in our minds, but there was the self-belief in the dressing room.”
So what actually went wrong with India's batting? “As soon as I went in, I got a hang of the pace of the pitch. I realised cross-batted shots aren't on, and a lot of horizontal bat shots cost us on this pitch. We needed to knock the ball around, and with three quality wrist-spinners, it was always difficult.”
Kohli then hailed Jaspirt Bumrah, who bagged the man of the match for his tight spell, and hat-trick hero Mohammad Shami. “It's simple - we want to use him (Bumrah) smartly when conditions allow us to. When he takes one or two wickets, he can go on. But otherwise, we try to ensure the opposition keeps in mind that he has seven or so overs to go.”
The Indian skipper was also pleased that those in the bench are performing. “ Everyone's waiting for an opportunity. Shami was really good today. He was making the ball move more than anybody. Vijay (Shankar) fielded with great intent. We knew these guys were hungry. This game was way more important for us because things didn't go as planned. That's when you need to show character and bounce back.”
Bumrah thanked Kohli for the confidence in him and said: “It gives one a lot of confidence when the captain has so much trust in you. It helps me keep a clearer head. We saw the wicket getting slower and slower. So we had to be accurate. Its a big ground, so we had to go for the yorkers and bowl wicket-to-wicket. Our plan was to get the run-rate high and create chances. Shami’s show gives us a healthy competition within the side. We discuss what the plans are, and it's great when everybody is chipping in with wickets."
Jadhav then went on to explain how India managed the tense moments. “We had belief in our death specialist bowlers. Obviously, Bumrah is the No.1 bowler. We knew that we needed to break that one partnership (between Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan), and the next batsman would find it difficult to score those runs in that scenario. So it was just one wicket away from that crucial win.”
When Jadhav was posed with the same question related to the pitch, he said: “ I guess the wicket was slow outside, and especially they were playing with three, almost four spinners. The ball was turning a little when we were playing, and it was slow. So it was difficult to play shots. On wickets like these, one needs to analyse what sort of score we are looking at. So our actual plan was to look for around 250. We were targeting 260, but we fell short by 20, 30 runs. So going into field, we knew that we had to make up those 15, 20 runs. Big credit to the bowlers that they defended this small total.”