India v Pakistan, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 2, 2014

'We showed a lot of character' - Kohli

ESPNcricinfo staff

'Proud of our boys today' - Kohli

With three overs remaining, Pakistan needed 17 runs to win, with four wickets in hand. Three of India's frontline bowlers had one over left of their 10-over quotas. Virat Kohli decided to bowl out his two seamers first and leave R Ashwin to bowl the last over of the match. The strategy nearly worked; India took three wickets in five balls in the last two overs, and left Pakistan's last-wicket pair nine runs to get from four balls.

Two sixes from Shahid Afridi won Pakistan the match, but Kohli said he was proud of how India fought, and didn't think he had gone wrong in leaving Ashwin to bowl the last over.

"Not at all," he said, after the match. "I knew that if I put the seamers in before and Ashwin comes to bowl, they will go for it. Wickets is all we wanted. If Afridi and Umar Gul had just played singles they would have won easily. I took that risk of putting the seamers in and making them hit the ball.

"We almost pulled it off as well in the end. Those last two sixes were not quite off the middle of the bat. One side was a small boundary, but that's how it goes. We almost pulled it off and I'm really proud of the way the team showed character in the field and with the bowling as well - 245 against a team like Pakistan and on that wicket with the dew is not easy to defend, but I think the guys showed a lot of character."

Kohli said India had done particularly well to run Pakistan so close considering the experience gap between the sides.

"If you compare the experience of our team with their team, it's massive, it's huge," Kohli said. "And in international cricket it really counts a lot. You can get away with it in Twenty20, but in the 50-over format you need to show a lot of character and that's exactly what the boys did.

"If you see the kind of batsmen they had and our bowlers with the inexperience they had, still to put up that kind of fight… I mean you see Amit Mishra, he gave only 28 runs in 10 overs, took two wickets, bowled brilliantly against the likes of Misbah, Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi. So I think it was a commendable effort and I'm really, really proud of the way the guys fought it out."

Kohli praised the efforts of Amit Mishra, who came into the side for the first time in the tournament and took 2 for 28 in his 10 overs. Kohli hinted the legspinner might start featuring more frequently in the team's plans.

"Well that's one thing you can say now," he said, when asked if Mishra should have come off the bench sooner. "If he went for 70 in 10 I don't think you would have asked me that question. But I've always been really impressed by Amit Mishra. He's an attacking bowler, which I like as well. He always likes to make the batsman take on that extra fielder inside the circle.

"The way he bowled with such a small target to defend I think it was brilliant on his part. The amount of character he showed, he certainly put his hand up. In the future as well, if we want to play with three spinners or we want to go with the same kind of bowling attack, he would certainly be one of our priorities. He's brilliant with the ball, turns it on any sort of wicket and today he showed what he could do. I'm really, really happy for him."

After seeing how the spinners had controlled the ball better than the pace bowlers when dew started playing a part against Sri Lanka, Kohli decided he would select Mishra as a third spinner against Pakistan.

"Well the last game, the way it panned out… even with the dew, if you can get the wicket to dry out, and these wickets are pretty dry, so if the bowler can bowl three deliveries in an over on an area, it's much better for the spinner. He has more of a wicket-taking chance compared to the fast bowlers. With dew coming in at the end, the fast bowlers tend to go for plenty of runs. That was the idea in the last game itself.

"Rohit Sharma had contained them [Sri Lanka] pretty nicely and there I made a decision that we should go with three spinners. These guys have a lot of right-handers in the squad as well and Mishra turns the ball, so I wanted that attacking bowler in the bowling line-up and it almost paid off for us. I think he and Ashwin were the difference in the game today. The way they controlled that situation was magnificent."

As had been the case in their previous match against Sri Lanka, India missed chances on the field, with a missed stumping from Dinesh Karthik proving particularly costly. Kohli repeated what he had said after the Sri Lanka game - India would have to play smarter cricket.

"We are making mistakes regularly, which we need to correct because they are costing us in international cricket," he said. "If we make three or four crucial errors in each game, it's quite costly in the end. That is one thing we have to learn from and improve on because there's quite a bit of inexperience in batting and bowling. People learn from mistakes and I hope in the coming games we don't repeat these mistakes and play more smartly at crucial times."

India still have a chance of reaching the final, but they will probably need other matches to end in upsets. Kohli said he was not going to worry about other results.

"Well, I've personally stopped putting my money on the games that are left in the tournament," he said. "In Australia [2011-12 tri-series] as well, we were watching another game, and Sri Lanka almost beat Australia and we could have made the finals, but that didn't happen. Last time in Asia Cup as well we were hoping Sri Lanka beats Pakistan or Bangladesh, either of the two, but that didn't happen. All we can do is put up a strong performance in our game, try and get a bonus point, and then see. We'll know by March 4 what happens. We're just looking to improve our cricket and correct our mistakes."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Pooja on March 6, 2014, 10:40 GMT

    I had hoped for India to at least qualify for finals. But nonetheless so far, Asia Cup sponsored by Cycle Pure Agarbathies had been fun especially to see team like Afghanistan play. We should all take cricket as a good sport; so what if India lost and didn't qualify for finals. Big deal! Next T-20 is coming up that's what I'm looking forward to. By the way I came across this really fun game based on Cricket.

  • Dummy4 on March 6, 2014, 6:16 GMT

    I totally agree with Chamila, its now the most hated team in international cricket

  • Bilal on March 4, 2014, 23:15 GMT

    Vinod S Menon - are you out of your mind? Virat was great on the field? India was 20-30 runs short? The only reason you crossed 200 was because of umpiring errors! Jadeja was leg before when he was still in the single digits and he went on to make 50+. Ashwin was clearly caught behind but he refused to walk. Take the extra 40-50 runs they scored and you barely would have made 200.

    As for Kohli being a better captain than Misbah? Kohli is immature. As captain you should not be screaming and celebrating in the face of a tail ender (Saeed Ajmal) after getting him out. As captain you shouldn't make excuses for losing the match as Kohli did by saying that the boundary was short. India deserves a better captain. Kohli keeps making a fool of himself.

  • Ashok on March 4, 2014, 18:33 GMT

    At the end of the day, it is the results that matter! A loss is a Loss however you cloth & present it. India have lost to all & sundry. A world ODI #1 team should play in accordance with its ranking by winning the crucial ODI matches. What character Kohli is talking about when in the last over with 10 runs & one wicket in hand, India lost? There were 5 balls to dismiss a #11 bat & India gave away a single to this guy & lost. This is where the Winning qualities of the Champions show up. The sad part is India were swept in SA & NZ in ODI's. Now they come to Asian Championship & lose to SL & Pakistan. This is not "Character" of a #1 ranked team. Mr. Kohli. The XI selection has been very poor at best in SA, NZ & in Asia Cup. Let has show some "character" by putting in some deserving benched players- who are the real winners- in the XI. Mishra showed his character conclusively after being benched for so many matches. First play the BEST XI -that's where the real Leader's character shows!

  • Dummy4 on March 4, 2014, 14:59 GMT

    Kholi was great in the field, what's up guys are you kidding me. We are 20-30 runs short. B.Kumar was pathetic for over a year now. Shami can only bowl to right handers. Ashwin is shadow of himself. Mishra the only bowlers looked threatening. Jaddu hip hop music god only knows about his tactics. Rohit throw his wicket, Rahane well left & Kathik slip it again and again. Still match ended last over. The pitch is 280+ pitch. Kholi captained better then Misbha, but he didn't have match winners. Though he felt the pressure, Kholi was impressive in field.

  • Cosmic on March 4, 2014, 5:49 GMT

    We show our character every time isn't it? Every game is a learning experience, so where are the results? Why do we keeping on struggling over and over again?

    Are we really learning anything? Doesn't seems to be, we are making the same mistake again and again.

    Do player listen to what the expert says?

  • Shahzaib on March 4, 2014, 2:24 GMT

    India is missing a major trick by not picking Mishra over Jadeja or Ashwin... Batting is the main reason Dhoni keeps choosing Jaddu and Ashwin, but with Mishra showing the sort of damage he can do with the bat (in IPL) and the ball (always), I'm guessing Jaddu and/or Ashwin's days in the team are numbered.

  • Kuldeep on March 4, 2014, 0:29 GMT

    Disappointing captaincy from Kohli, got tired of watching negative tactics in test cricket for years from Dhoni (he is the best in ODIs format). I was hoping big things from Kohli, a leader who could inspire the team. We are going the same path again. Can India produce a captain with imagination who can lift the team, make them trust their ability? Can India produce captains like Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor or Michael Clarke. Can Rohit Sharma be the next one to try? We can't have the same negative captain for another 10 years who is just too reactive, need a captain to make things happen in the middle.

  • Omar on March 3, 2014, 23:42 GMT

    The sad fact is that the generation of Indian greats is now gone: Tendu, Laxman, Dravid, Kumble, even Zaheer in his prime. These guys forged their skills in the furnace of International Test Cricket and applied it to ODI and T20.

    The current lot is more and more the product of the Indian Pajama League and simply can not dominate at the international level. They will win a match or two here and there but will hard to compete with teams which are focused on international competition rather than domestic leagues.

    Anyways, enjoy the upcoming season of IPL and the plummeting ICC rankings!

  • Android on March 3, 2014, 23:07 GMT

    Much has been discussed about Kohli's immaturity. He is not suppose to do undue jumps on field. look at Dohni, as a Pakistani I always love players like MSD , Sachin, A jadeja who were cool and never showed their hate in the field. even Ashwin lacks the sportsmen sprit when Akmal cought him and he batted twice. and in experience team excuse is silly. It is same as a kid is complaining to his Mom that they bring big boys :). I think MSD is much better then Kohli. He should continue. India have serious problems in their bowling. Sort em out.

  • No featured comments at the moment.