Article

Kohli bristles at selection questions

17 January 2018 17:34

Virat Kohli launched a prickly defence of his captaincy after India fell to a series defeat in South Africa after just two Tests.

Kohli had led India to nine successive series victories across 2015 and 2017, although eight were played either at home or in subcontinent conditions and the other was in West Indies - hardly the fast-bowling paradise of years gone by.

And the top-ranked Test side have wilted in the face of South Africa's pace battery, with debutant Lungi Ngidi taking 6-39 as the Proteas wrapped up a 135-run victory on the fifth morning of the Centurion fixture.

With Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja and Bhuvneshwar Kumar sitting out this contest, it was put to Kohli that he had not been able to find the right XI to play the conditions, perhaps surprisingly slower than expected, to the skipper's apparent chagrin.

He snappily replied: "What's the best eleven? If we had won this, was this the best eleven?

"I'm saying that we don't decide XI according to the results."

When pushed further to discuss how selection may have been more influenced by the pitch, Kohli continued: "But you're telling me we could have played the best eleven. So, you tell me the best eleven and we'll play that.

"I'm saying the loss obviously hurts. But you make one decision and you back it. We certainly don't sit here and say, 'Oh if you fail in one game you are not good enough to be at this level'.

"Didn't we lose in India? We had the best eleven there. Whoever plays should be good enough to go out there and do the job for the team.

"That's why we've got such a big squad. Because we believe in their abilities and they are good enough to be at this level but you need to do that collectively as a team. You can't pinpoint and say this is the best eleven.

"We played with teams before that have looked really strong and have lost as well. So, I certainly don't bend towards that opinion at all."

A facet of Kohli's captaincy has been almost constant tweaks to his XI, whether winning or losing. A suggestion that this may not have helped in South Africa set the skipper off again.

He asked: "How many Test matches have we won out of 34 [with Kohli as captain]? How many have we won? How many have we won? How many draws?"

When asked 'How many in India?', Kohli returned: "Does it matter? Wherever we play we try to do our best. I'm here to answer your questions, not to fight with you."

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