WTC Final: Change or get changed, Virat Kohli’s terse warning to batsmen after WTC debacle
It may not be person specific but at the back of his mind he might have the pictures of Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara. Pant, who was given a reprieve on 5, made a 41 of 88 balls and looked in a mindset to push things forward. In low-scoring game like the WTC Final, a quick 50 or 60 could often make a difference in the outcome and Pant was poised for that but a top edge off Trent Boult ended his stay.
But on the other hand, Pujara was in his stubborn self, trying to grind down New Zealand attack before imposing himself. It resulted in an 80-ball 15 at a strike-rate of 18.75 in the second innings and a 54-ball 8 in the first dig at a strike rate just over 14. Pujara’s last hundred was against Australia at Sydney in January 2019, even though he made a decisive difference again at Sydney earlier this year with twin fifties against the Aussies.
However, the situation was different in Southampton as India needed runs from top-order batsmen rather than longer stay at the crease. Kohli suggested that when he said India fell short 30-40 runs of a target that could have defended.
The average run-scoring rate during the WTC Final was just above 2, indicating that both India and New Zealand batsmen preferred caution over aggression. But when it mattered most, Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor stitched together a 96-run alliance in little over 28 overs and scored at more than 3 runs per over to take the Kiwis home and to the ICC Mace.
Patience was the hallmark of their partnership too but Williamson and Taylor were not shy in taking some risks to push the board forward.
This might have prompted him to say that the Indian batsmen need to take more risks. “The mindset has to score runs. You can’t be too worried about getting out because you are bringing the bowler into the game and not moving the game forward. As a batting unit if we consistently put up 300 on the board then it is a different kind of pressure on the opposition with the kind of bowlers that we have.
“The idea from here on will be to try to score runs and not worry about getting out in testing conditions. That’s the only way you can score and put the opposition under pressure, otherwise you’re just standing there hoping that you don’t get out and eventually you will because you’re not being optimistic enough. I think you have to take more risks and be confident about taking those risks against a quality bowling attack like New Zealand,” said Kohli in the virtual post-match press meet.
Kohli is aware that India do not have too much time at hand before they move to the Test series against England. In that context, Kohli said the reassessment work will start sooner than later.
“We will reassess and continue to have conversations around what are the things required to strengthen our side and not follow or fall prey to certain patterns. We will not wait for a year or so and have to plan ahead. If you see our white ball team now, we have great depth and the guys are ready and confident and same thing needs to be done with Test cricket.
“You have to reassess and replan and understand what dynamics work for the team and how we can be fearless. Bring in right people who have right mindset to perform,” the skipper said.
Kohli used the innings of Pant as a blueprint for the way ahead. “Rishabh is going to be a very expressive player whenever he gets an opportunity. Whenever there is a situation that needs to be understood, I think he assesses it really well. When things don’t come off, you can say that it was an error of judgment and that’s acceptable in sport.
“We don’t want him to lose his positivity or optimism in changing the situation for the team, and that’s where his USP lies, and we will definitely continue to back him to play that way and find ways to put pressure on the opposition and find ways to score runs, which is his natural game.”
Kohli’s message is loud and clear: Buckle up and change!
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