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Virat Kohli concedes India were 'completely outplayed'

""I think with the ball we were not that effective. We just didn't hit the areas that we wanted to consistently."

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
India's captain Virat Kohli and vice-captain KL Rahul have both admitted that the team needs to get better on flat batting wickets, following their series defeat to Australia.
India conceded 374 and 389 on consecutive games, leaving their batsmen unrealistic targets to chase. Over a patchy press conference line, Rahul sought to defend his bowlers - "struggle is not the right word" - but did accept that they needed to get smarter when faced with such flat tracks.
"I wouldn't agree with you when you say it is struggling," Rahul said. "The challenge for bowlers is to adapt quickly. Sometimes you have to sit back and accept that the opposition batsmen have played really well. We haven't done a whole lot wrong but it is a learning for us to sit back and think of how we can do better when we play on such good batting wickets.
"The mood in the camp has been, and is, still very positive. Sometimes as teams you learn to accept that the opposition played better cricket. It is home conditions for them. They plated better cricket. We have played 50-over cricket after a long long time so yeah still a long way to go on the tour. But we are doing a lot of things right. Just need to learn how to bowl better on such beautiful batting surfaces. That is the learning. Not a lot we have done wrong. So we need to get better with our skills and execution and need to figure out what best can we do on such wickets."
One of the bowlers you expect to adapt quickly is Japsrit Bumrah, but he has now taken just three wickets in eight ODIs this year, averaging 146.33. However, Bumrah has shown time and again that he can turn slow starts around spectacularly. Rahul expects more of the same.
"Look, we all know Jasprit is quite fiery and he is very very competitive on the field," Rahul said of the bowler's show of frustration on the field. "And he has very high expectations of himself. And New Zealand was a long long time ago. I am sure he sets the bar very high… he means a lot to this team and to this set-up and we know the value of Japsrit.
"It is about time a champion player like that will come back and deliver and get wickets for us. You also have to understand that New Zealand and Australia, the wickets are so good to bat on. You will see top bowlers not getting wickets [once in a while]. So that is acceptable."
Kohli asked for better execution of plans for longer periods from his players.
"We were completely outplayed," he said at the post-match presentation. "I think with the ball we were not that effective. We just didn't hit the areas that we wanted to consistently. And they have got a pretty strong batting line-up, and they understand these conditions and pitches and the angles on the field well.
"We had to bowl in one area for long enough, and we didn't. We got to 340 and still fell short by 50 so the chase always felt a bit too steep. The areas they bowl, invariably they were in the position that some chances would be created. They used the dimensions of the field pretty well, which we unfortunately did not."
One bright spot for India was that Hardik Pandya returned to the bowling crease sooner than expected. He was introduced "out of nowhere". Kohli just asked him how he felt about bowling, and Pandya said he felt okay for two overs, but ended up bowling four. Both the captains acknowledged that in the process he gave away the blueprint of bowling cutters into the pitch to the Australia bowlers.
"Refreshing, isn't it?" Rahul said of Pandya's comeback. "If he starts bowling, then it is a load off the skipper and the team. We need allrounders for the team balance balance. He quite enjoyed it himself. He loves to get into contests and he is itching to go."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo