Indian skipper Virat Kohli is delighted with the win in the final Test against South Africa and team's performance. He praised the team and said that they showed great character to pull off a sensational 63-run win in the third Test match against South Africa at Johannesburg.
“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 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,” said Kohli in the post-match press conference.
Virat thinks India is ready to perform on the foreign conditions.
"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 and 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,” added Kohli.
Indian bowlers outplayed South African batsman throughout the series. They were successful in picking up all 20 wickets in all the three Test matches. Virat lauded the bowlers, saying they were sensational throughout the series.
“Bowlers were outstanding, I mean to take all the 60 wickets in the series, we haven’t done it ever before away from home. And I as said earlier, this is the biggest positive that has come out of this series. The kind of character that they showed today, it’s really praise-worthy and as a captain, I feel very happy for them and for the whole team,” he added.
Talking about the pitch, which came under a lot of scrutiny, Kohli said that his team never complained about the kind of track they got and backed themselves to win no matter what.
“Well, firstly we never complained about the tracks we played on. Secondly when we saw the pitch, we knew it’s going to be an equal chance for both sides, 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.”
“Definitely, the bowlers had to work really hard today. They didn’t get much help from the wicket today, but the character that we showed today, it will give us the belief that we can do it again and keep it doing it. A lot of people didn’t have belief in us, but as a team, we knew that we were very close in the first two Tests too, and we knew that if we played better in pressure-situations than them, then we would win. And we did that in this Test match. This win was very important from our and the Indian team’s point of view, and we were determined to win this match,” Kohli added, talking about the effort put in by the bowlers on Day 4.
Virat said even during the partnership between Hashim Amla and Dean Elgar, he had faith in the team. “I don’t think like people on the outside. It’s very important for me to have belief in the team, at all stages I was thinking if we were in this position, and if we lose a wicket, that suddenly makes things difficult for the next batsmen to coming in to bat. And we knew that when they lose a couple of wickets, guys coming in are going to be nervous because this is Johannesburg, we are not playing in India. They need to play well and do the job. We had nothing to lose, we were playing expressive cricket, we got stuck into them.”
“We got stuck into them in the second innings at Cape Town, then they had a collapse in centurion as well in the first innings. So we knew that if we get a couple of wickets the same thing can be repeated. Because as a batsman you are certainly reminded of the collapses that you have had and you don’t want to repeat that. But I can’t speak for other players but as an individual batsman, you look to have a perfect mix of intent as well as control throughout your innings. It can be difficult on day four and five but if you do that really well, you will end up chasing scores also, it’s not like it’s not been done in the past. But we knew that the kind of bowling attack we had and the way we are bowling right now, even if get a couple of wickets it will only be a matter of time,” he added.
Kohli also heaped praise on the South African team, saying they played well throughout the series and deserved to win.
“Well, South Africa played better than us in the first two games, so they deserved to win, as I have mentioned earlier. But we deserved to win this game. They as a team know at many moments in the first two games as well, we put them under pressure. So, it’s not like we were rolled over. People really like to look at it that way. When we came to play this game, we saw banners of whitewash, 3-0 and what not. So, it feels really sweet to have made it 2-1. We believe if we had done well in the first two games, it could’ve gone either way as well.
But the thing that has stood out in this game is that even after being 2-0 down, people can get really bogged down and lose hope or not show character but this is something that is a testimony to the belief we have in ourselves as a team and what the attitude we carry in every game we play. South Africa deserved to win the first two games and we certainly deserved to win this one.”
There were moments when Kohli was seen having a go at some of the South African players and also at the Wanderers crowd, but the skipper maintained that there is a lot of mutual respect between the two teams.
“There is a lot of mutual respect. The rivalry stays on the pitch. We don’t see anyone talking ill about the other team, they give credit to us when we do well and we give credit to them when they do well. A lot of these guys play with us in the IPL as well so we know them really well also. But when you step out as a team there are no friendships there, there is only competition, but when you step off it they are lovely guys and we have no issues at all, the teams know each other really well. And it is exciting for world cricket and that’s why this win was important for us also because we are the no.1 side in the world and we played like that today. So given tough competition from the no.2 side in their own conditions, we showed character and am sure the public enjoyed watching this series as well,” he said.
He also praised Jasprit Bumrah, who registered his first five wicket haul in Tests and had made his debut in the series.
“He fits perfectly into the ideal XI for us. He is someone that has given us breakthroughs when wanted in the series, he has bowled his heart out. So, I am really happy for him, he really wanted Test cricket badly and has shown what a high-class bowler he is. He probably bowled with the experience of a guy who has played 40-50 games. If you see his pitch map, only three balls today were full-length deliveries, everything was length and back of the length, and he really made life difficult for the South African batsmen. I am really delighted for him, he is someone who works really hard on his game, and he has certainly come a long way from being limited-overs to the specialist to doing outstandingly well on this tour. I am really, really happy for him,” said Kohli.