New Delhi: Indian captain Virat Kohli on Monday praised the South Africans for their gritty batting in the second innings of the fourth and final Test at the Ferozeshah Kotla here and commended his teammates for their match-winning performance.
India bundled out South Africa for 143 runs in the second innings to win the fourth and final Test by 337 runs and clinch the series 3-0.
The visitors produced a superb display of defensive batting with the experienced AB de Villiers, captain Hashim Amla and Faf du Plesiss trying their best to tire out the Indian bowlers.
“It is very difficult skill to play like that. I was surprised by their approach, but I was also impressed with the way the applied themselves. More than that, I was happy that the bowlers were going through a phase where they were being tested. They came out with flying colours,” Kohli said after the game.
“At no stage did the bowlers or fielders panic. We knew that when we get our chances, we have to make sure that we are in that mindset to capitalise,” he added.
Kohli however, asserted that the Proteas’ defensive approach helped to take the pressure off the Indian bowlers and made it easier to set the field.
“We were able to use our part-timers because of the way South Africa were batting. The approach where they did not want to score runs made it very easy to set the fields and bring in our part-timers to give rest to our main bowlers,” he said.
“I was very surprised by the way they came out and decided to start defending from both ends. I think that really helped bring in the part-timers when they were needed and keep my main bowlers fresh.”
Kohli also backed the ultra defensive strategy adopted by the visitors, saying that they did what was needed in that particular situation.
“It was the strategy from their team. The way we batted in the second innings, is something people would have enjoyed watching. We bowled well in the second innings. Commenting on whether is was negative strategy or not is not correct. It is logic that they will try to save the game. The way they want to come out and play is their choice,” he stated.
“It has got nothing to do with the spirit of the game.”
Kohli had captained the Indian team for the first time in a four-Test series in Australia just before the 50-over World Cup.
Although that tour ended in a 0-2 loss, Kohli asserted that the Indians gained a lot of confidence from that series.
“It all started in Australia for us, the way we played there. We showed a lot of character even in our defeats. The defeats were not one-sided. We were snapping at their heels all the time and knew that we could catch in at any stage,” the Indian skipper said.
“It gave us a lot of belief as a Test team that we can do this. We can be a champion team, play well around the world and as a unit. I think we have carried forward that confidence from Australia and into Sri Lanka. We set out a few plans and rules that the team needed to do win in Test cricket,” he added.
“Test cricket has been one format where we all have been wanting to do well. I would like to give credit to the team. They have shown the character to bounce back in the last two series.”