India skipper Virat Kohli on Tuesday urged his batsmen to step up and support the bowlers in their good job, ahead of the third Test beginning on Boxing Day here.
Kohli struck a magnificent 123 in the second Test but could not stop Australia from winning by 146 runs as the other batters around him failed.
Similarly, in the first Test Pujara’s hundred helped India win by 31 runs.
Indian bowlers, on the contrary, have done exceedingly well, picking up 40 wickets in four innings.
“It is very important for batsmen to stand up because as everyone can see, our bowling has been performing really well. Otherwise, the bowlers won’t be able to do anything with the totals that we have been compiling,” skipper Kohli said on the eve of the third Test.
“If we are batting second, we will try to take the lead or get as close to the opposition total as possible. If you equal a big score, then it becomes a second-innings’ match and if you take a good first-innings lead, then you can capitalize on that,” Kohli added.
“The batsmen must step up collectively. I won’t say individually whether someone needs to do that or not, but as a batting unit, we have to definitely put up a better performance,” Kohli sent out a loud and clear message for his batting unit,” he pointed out.
Kohli did not want to dwell on the last two tests, saying the key is to stay in the moment.
“As a team, I don’t think whether you are 2-0 up or 2-0 down or 1-1, what’s happened in the past has no significance at all to what’s going to happen in the next two Tests or what’s going to happen in the next Test which is quite immediate.
“The key is to stay in the moment, stay in the present, understand and remember why you won the first Test, which was because of us being in the present moment,” the skipper stressed.
Nathan Lyon, with 16 wickets in two Tests, has been India’s bane and Kohli praised the off-spinner for his efforts.
“Lyon is a very good bowler. He consistently bowls in good areas. So we have to have our plans against such a bowler so that we can also explore scoring options because if he is allowed to bowl at one spot for a long time, he becomes even more dangerous.
“These things you need to figure out constantly – who is bowling well in a particular series and what your plans should be against him. He has definitely bowled very well from the opposition.”
Kohli insisted that the team is taking it as a challenge and further praised Lyon for bowling so well in Australia where conditions are not always spinner-friendly.
“For a spinner to bowl so well in Australia is a huge thing. We are taking it as a challenge, and we definitely want to improve our play against him. We have put in the effort in practice, it now matters who we execute those on the field.
“As I said, if there is a challenge coming your way, you try and counter it. That’s our effort – if we have been dismissed in a particular way, not repeat that mode of dismissal. As cricketers, that is all you can do,” he added.
Kohli added that he is thrilled to be playing his second Boxing Day Test down under.
“It’s amazing (as an occasion). Obviously, day one is the most anticipated day and we are expecting a lot of people to come in, maybe 80,000-plus. So I have experienced that twice before.
“It’s definitely a magical day to step on the field, the national anthems for both teams, and you can sense the energy in the stadium. For me, that is my most favourite personal moment of the Boxing Day, when the anthems are sung, you are standing on the field and there are so many people around you. Definitely, it is one of the most iconic Test matches and we are very happy to be a part of that,” he added.