Victorious Indian captain Virat Kohli on Thursday attributed the Test team’s fine results overseas in recent years to his pace attack and rated Mohammed Shami among the best three seamers in the world currently.
The formidable India pace unit destroyed a listless South Africa to fashion an emphatic 113-run win in the first Test here, setting the team on course for a maiden series victory in the country.
Kohli lavished rich praise on his colleagues after the team’s big win.
“Just the way these guys bowl together, it’s just a hallmark of our team getting a result from that position, not just in this game but also in the last two-three years,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
India were handed the advantage on the first day itself when centurion KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal set it up with a big opening partnership, and Kohli said that the partnership made a huge difference to the outcome of the match.
“The discipline that the batters showed… Winning the toss, batting first overseas is a tough challenge. Credit to Mayank and KL the way they set it up,” he said.
“We knew we were in pole position with anything over 300-320. We have a lot of belief in our bowling unit and knew the bowlers will get the job done,” Kohli pointed out.
This is India’s fist win at Centurion and the India skipper, recalling his team’s fantastic victory at Wanderers in the final Test of the 2018 Test series, said that result from the past instilled plenty of self belief.
“It’s a top start for us. We have to understand one day was washed out – shows how well we played. It’s always a difficult place to play against South Africa. We got so much confidence out of Johannesburg last time. It’s a ground we love playing at.”
The next match is scheduled to be played at Johannesburg from January 3-7.
Speaking about Shami, he said, “He is absolutely world class talent. For me he’s in the best three seamers in the world at the moment. His strong wrist, his seam position and his ability to hit a length consistently.”
“Very, very happy for him to get 200 wickets and have an impactful performances.”
Pacer Jasprit Bumrah could not bowl a lot in the first innings, and Kohli felt his team could have gotten a bigger lead in the first innings if that wasn’t the case.
“Spoke about it in the change room — the fact he didn’t bowl much in the first innings, it allowed South Africa to get around 40 more runs.
South African skipper Dean Elgar, who top-scored for his side with a fighting 77, said there were a few positives for his team but expressed his disappointment with the batters.
This is only the third instance when South Africa had been dismissed under 200 in each innings of a Test match at home, since their re-admission in 1991.
“Obviously not a nice thing knowing we lost a Test here. Did a few things wrong. Lot of positives coming out that we can use in the next two. Always the nature here. Always going to be tough because the wicket’s playing slower (first morning),” Elgar said.
“Indian openers did the fundamentals right. We didn’t quite execute the lengths well. After some good chats our bowlers executed the lengths and restricted India to what we thought was a par score,” he added.
“New ball is something you have to get through playing here. Can’t emphasise enough on the hard work our bowlers put in to get 20 wickets. Our batters let us down. I’d say the batting was the difference between the two sides,” Elgar explained.
“We’ll have a little sit-down with myself and the management to strategise. Didn’t do a lot of wrong things. Not all doom and gloom for us. We thrive under the pressure which is a positive for us,” he said.