Although Kohli himself had a great Test, scoring 200 runs, with considerable help from Nos. 9, 10 and 11, the other four specialist batsmen put together made a mere 99. So when asked what the biggest takeaway for India was in in the post-match presentation, India’s captain said, “Application. There’s a lot to learn from the lower order as well. First innings, Ishant and Umesh got stuck in there, again Ishant showed character here, Umesh got stuck in with Hardik, so those kinds of things make you feel that as top-order batsmen, we need to apply ourselves better also. Just look at ourselves in the mirror. There’s no hiding from this game. Whenever you step onto the field, whatever you feel will come out in no time. We just have to be positive, fearless, enjoy our cricket, take the negatives out of our cricket and look at the positives and build on those.”
Kohli was happy with the character India showed in coming back on the first two days of the Edgbaston Test, but he knew his side needed more. England won’t allow oppositions to come back all the time in home conditions, as was seen on the final day when India couldn’t get the required 84 runs with five wickets in hand.
“There were a couple of times when we made comebacks into the game and I thought that we showed character there but a team like England will not let you do that every day of a Test match,” Kohli told Sky Sports. “We realised that on the final day. They were relentless in the areas that they hit, and they made us work hard for our runs. Definitely could have applied ourselves better but I’m still proud of the fight that we showed and set up the series really nicely, I guess. It’s going to be exciting for people to watch and just enjoy Test cricket over the next few weeks.”
That India came so close was down in large parts to Kohli himself who scored an epic 149 in the first innings and 51 in the second. The next best score from India in the whole match was 31. This effort was reminiscent of his twin hundreds in Adelaide in 2014-15 when India fell just short again. Earlier in the Test Kohli had said this hundred was next only to that Adelaide knock for him. On the final day he had a chance to make this more special, but finally fell to a perfect inswinger from Stokes.
R Ashwin says there’s no reason for India to be downbeat after narrowly losing the first Test at Edgbaston
“From the team’s perspective, I think it was right up there,” Kohli said. “Second-best probably to Adelaide second innings. But it was one I’ll fondly remember. If we had won, it would have been No. 1. But yeah, it was hard work and when you’re able to take your team close to the first-innings total of a home side, it always feels good. We thought we could build on that, the target was in sight, we needed one more partnership to pull us through, which didn’t happen. Not really thinking about that right now. Just thinking about how we’re going to regroup and come back stronger in the next Test.”
R Ashwin, who was India’s best bowler with seven wickets in the match, said that the it would be “unfair” to feel “defeated” so early in a long Test series. But he did admit that when India had the “initiative” they failed to grab it and that it had cost them dearly.
“It is a game where we would have liked to finish on the winning side,” Ashwin said at the press conference. “No doubt about it. But there a lot of things we feel proud at the end of this game. It is a long Test series, so to feel defeated or painful so early on in this series is quite unfair. I don’t feel that bad or hurt as of now because I thought we competed really well. We made more than two comebacks and probably didn’t close out the game when the initiative was on our side. That is something that can happen when you are travelling. There are lot of things to be upbeat about this game.”
Although Ashwin tried to put on a brave face, there was a sense of pain when he said India ought to have delivered the “killer blow.”
“Like Virat keeps mentioning when you make runs or when you pick up wickets, you want to make sure it is sort of a killer blow and you want to end up on the winning side and that gives you more pleasure out of the game. When it doesn’t happen you do feel deflated about it. But as I told you before this game was like a see-saw battle. There was enough in there for the quicks and it was doing quite a bit. So the bowlers are always in the game so yuou do expect batsmen to get a ball that has their name on it. With that sort of a game hedging on the balance I thought we did compete really well through the game.”