Adelaide: His gamble to go for a win while chasing a steep target did not pay off in the opening cricket Test against Australia but India's stand-in skipper Virat Kohli today said he does not regret the strategy as playing defensively for a draw would have resulted in a bigger loss.
India lost the match by 48 runs after giving a real shot to the 364-run target here and Kohli said he is proud of the approach.
"The chat I was having with guys in the middle was belief. If you believe in a stroke, go for it, I told them. Rohit (Sharma) was sweeping and missing, but I kept backing him. That's how we looked at the game and that's why we came so close to the target. If at any point we had played for a draw we would have lost by 150 runs to be honest," Kohli said in the post-match presentation.
At the Adelaide Oval, despite Kohli's career-best score of 141 runs, the visitors fell short of the target and were bowled out for 315 runs. They now trail the four-match series 1-0.
"Australia were far better than us in taking chances and grabbing opportunities. They deserved to win today," said Kohli.
"When Murali Vijay and I were batting in the middle, it looked like we had the upper hand. But at no point did I think that we have to pull out of the chase. I always believed that we could do it and backed myself throughout.
"There is enough reason to regret about things. But at the same we have to look at the positives. I look at every opportunity to do as something special for the team and if we were able to pull it off today, it would have been one of the most special moments of my life. But despite the loss I am proud of the way the boys played," he added.
Kohli became the second Indian batsman after Vijay Hazare to score two hundreds (116 and 148 in 1947-48) in a Test at Adelaide.
Among Indian batsmen, he became the fourth after Hazare, Sunil Gavaskar (thrice) and Rahul Dravid (twice) to achieve this feat.
In doing so, Kohli matched Greg Chappell's feat of scoring twin hundreds in a Test in his first match as captain. The Australia had achieved it against West Indies in 1975-76 at Brisbane.
"One good thing was that I wasn't thinking of any milestones," said the twin-centurion.
"I was only thinking about the target trying to calculate who I was going after. That's the first time I have been able to do that in Test cricket atleast. That was something new for me. So that felt good.
"I was hoping, when Mitchell Marsh was swinging at the boundary, that he will drop the catch. But he didn't. There are no regrets about playing that shot. Maybe I could have placed the shot better, and had it gone to the boundary, things could have been different. But again that is a big if," he added.
Kohli wasn't the only batsman who perished in that manner. Rohit Sharma and Wriddhiman Saha were dismissed going for big hits, especially the latter, who jumped out of his crease.
"It wasn't frustrating at all," Kohli replied when asked if it was so, watching from the other end.
Nathan Lyon picked 12 wickets in the Test and became the first Australian spinner to take 10 or more wickets in a match against a visiting Indian side. His efforts allowed Australia to take the lead in this series.
"Nathan has improved a lot as a bowler since the last time he came to India. He is more confident of his ability and bowls in the right spots. And he gets the results as well. It's there for everyone to see, the kind of wickets he got."
"He (Lyon) was troubling the batsmen throughout and it was a challenge to play him in the middle. Credit to him for stringing that win for Australia," said Kohli praising the man-of-the-match.
When asked if he felt the need for an off-spinner particularly R Ashwin, ahead of whom leg-spinner Karn Sharma made his debut, Kohli replied, "That was my personal decision. I felt Karn was bowling better in warm-up and practice sessions than other spinners. There are no regrets again. It was a plan that I thought should work. And he bowled pretty well for his first game. You have to give the guy credit. He had fielders up and challenged the Aussie batsmen to score off him."
It is expected that Mahendra Singh Dhoni, recovering from a hand injury, will be back for the second Test starting in Brisbane on December 17 which means Kohli will have to step back after only one match in-charge.
"I would be very happy that he is going to be fit and available for the second Test. But I would like to keep talking to the boys in the same manner as I did here. It doesn't matter if there's a (c) in front of my name. If I can chat to them when I am captain, there is no reason I cannot do that when I am not.
"I have enough respect and friendship in the team to go and speak to them, and keep them on the same page. It's my responsibility and something I will look to do even when I am not captain. That's what the team needs at this point," Kohli signed off.