TELFORD VICE, Delhi
AN urchin in a blue beanie and a soiled white pullover snuck into the room from a side entrance at the Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi on Wednesday.
Only when he sat down behind the microphones did the gathered reporters realise that Virat Kohli had arrived 15 minutes early to talk about the fourth test between his Indian team and SA starting here on Thursday.
By the look of him, Kohli might have been chastened, embarrassed or even apologetic about the International Cricket Council’s announcement on Tuesday that the pitch at Jamtha – where India won the third test by 124 runs inside three days on Friday, and with it the series – had been rated as “poor” by match referee Jeff Crowe?
Chastened? Embarrassed? Apologetic? Kohli?
“I don’t think anyone’s written an article about the Adelaide test (between Australia and New Zealand) that finished in two-and-a-half days (on Sunday),” he said.
That was only one of the aggressively insecure, evasive and incorrect assertions Kohli made.
“There’ve been three scores of under 50 in test cricket in SA. I haven’t seen any sort of articles on that. Teams have been bundled out for under 100 about six times in SA. I’ve never seen an article about that.”
Clearly, India’s captain is behind in his reading as well as his fact-checking. Teams have been bowled out for fewer than 50 seven times in tests in SA, and for fewer than 100 all of 28 times.
And each time that has happened in the modern era of pitches being prepared with science rather than say-so, the state of the surface has been a major topic of conversation.
But, errors and all, was Kohli done whingeing? Not by a long chalk.
“Articles are there to be written. It’s the mindset or an opinion of someone. I don’t relate to it or understand it, and I certainly don’t entertain it. It doesn’t bother me or the team.”
Reminded that Crowe’s report was an official finding, not an article, Kohli stumbled into contradiction.
“I’m talking about anyone. I’m not talking about people writing articles in general. It’s an assessment that happens in every condition and in every ground. Unfortunately, in our country it’s highlighted a bit too much.
“It’s been going on for a while. There’s been no change in the pattern. The Indian team is going into a new mindset and changing their thinking. But I don’t think the thinking of the rest has changed too much, because we are criticised about our games and techniques when we don’t play well.”
Having admonished the press for harping on about the pitch, Kohli proceeded to do so unprompted.
Both teams’ batsmen have struggled. Are they lacking technically on pitches that assist spinners?
“Sir, we are prepared to face anyone, anywhere,” Kohli said as he extended an index finger along his temple, rested his chin on the heel of his hand and tried to stare a hole through his questioner in much the same way as a frustrated parent might try to reason with a four-year-old who refuses to eat his broccoli.
“I don’t understand why we are not sitting here talking about the fact that we are 2-0 up in the series. We’re not here to hide away from any mistakes, but if that’s the only thing that’s going to be raised in press conferences and debates as a cricketer you don’t find any sense to answer those questions after a while.”
Sense? That would make a change.