Kohli wants batsmen to 'show more character' in Australia
Virat Kohli, the India captain, expects individuals to step up and "show more character" during the Australia tour. He has laid special emphasis on the need for batsmen to bat together and the lower order to be "fearless."
"We understand within the group what we need to work on. It's upto the individuals to take ownership of that responsibility and the things that are explained, that are laid out as expectations from team culture point of view," Kohli said in Mumbai, on the eve of the team's departure. "That can only be achieved when individuals go and work on those things.
"There were a lot of things we sat down and discussed after England, [about] what went wrong. To be honest, we all felt there was not much that went wrong. Whatever was not right was very extreme also. We played good cricket, but the mistakes were also very extreme, that's why we lost that many number of games rather than wining those moments and winning the games.
"Individuals need to take more responsibility, show more character in such situations and assess it, and then find a solution rather than thinking that the solution will appear from somewhere. Those are the things we are really keen on, going now in our next venture and especially in Test cricket."
While Kohli was satisfied with the bowling attack at his disposal, he hoped the batsmen would step up too. "We're all feeling good about the fact that we have a great bowling attack now," he said. "But the batsmen need to step up as well, which we have spoken [about] as a team again after England. And everyone is really keen to correct those things and put [in a] complete performance.
"So we put in a complete performance for a game, which we want to last for a series, and for that to happen, again, people have to take more ownership every Test match that we play. Our focus more will be on how the batsmen bat well together on this tour because bowlers are in a great space and they know exactly what they want to do. After a long time, we feel like we can take 20 wickets every game. That is a great feeling to have but the whole combination has to come together for us to win the series, not just one Test match and be happy about it."
Ravi Shastri, the head coach, felt "getting tough mentally" would be crucial for the team to do well in Australian conditions, an aspect they had lacked in in England. "Playing for a win, 100% [will be our plan again]," he said. "Nothing will change, it is just seizing those moments, getting tough mentally, when the going gets tough. That's where we have erred, we have learnt our lessons. If we are tough mentally, we will do better."
Kohli also hoped India could "tighten up" their lower order game, an aspect that England were miles ahead of India during the summer. "We still understand that at the top it can get difficult, where guys are bowling a good spell and it's really tough," Kohli explained. "[It's] relatively easier for the middle order. But again, the lower-order contributions are crucial. As we saw in England, their lower-order contributions were much better than ours and that was the difference in the series.
"That's where we want guys to be fearless. Actually, that's the best place to bat where an allrounder, who can bowl as well, has literally no pressure. If they get going, they can change the whole course of the game or the series.
"That's something we need to tighten up, especially after England. It's something we are looking forward to, as a whole batting unit from top to bottom. To bat well together, not necessarily look for individual performances but bat well together to achieve a certain total every game."
Kohli also hoped his team-mates would continue to do the right things over a period of time, rather than just in short burst. "We need to get more consistent as a team, and for that each individual needs to sit down and remember what they did - whether we lost or whether we won," Kohli said. "Only then you can implement those things or you can stop yourself from making those same mistakes. The vision will be provided, but decision-making is a very individual thing which everyone needs to improve."
Speaking on his batsmen's showing in England, Kohli stated how some poor performances could "really dent you mentally", but said the key was to overcome those quickly, "refresh" and look ahead to the future instead of letting problems "pile on".
"The challenge is how to get up from that because when we play away from home, those things are going to happen," he said. "Any side that is playing in their conditions won't let you dominate the game. So we have to understand firstly how to control that situation better. It's not so radical that we can't get our heads ahead from that.
"Secondly, if that happens, we have to understand how to refresh and focus on the next match as a new game, rather than letting it build on or pile on. That has happened to me in the past, that can be a massive factor where people start thinking about the last innings or the innings before that or thinking of that as three innings in a tour rather than just focusing on a new innings which is for the team.
"That's something again we've discussed with the whole batting group - how to focus on staying in the present and that is something that has personally worked for me. To be able to stay in that particular minute and not think of anything else, like where I'm playing, what are the expectations, what are people going to write, or what are they going to say.
"To implement that, the talent is there, we have no doubts on it, everyone will agree. There's little things that we need to solidify, and make sure that when the situation is against us, we know how to block it or we know how to get over that quicker."
Vishal Dikshit is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo