When Virat Kohli won the toss at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, Sanjay Manjrekar who was commentating for the host broadcasters asked the Indian cricket team skipper, "I think you will do the obvious." However, Kohli sprang a surprise by stating that they would bat first. This had taken everybody by surprise. In six previous Twenty20 Internationals at the venue, no team had batted first to win the game. Kohli, with all his experience playing for Royal Challengers Bangalore at this venue, said," I know it's a ground where teams chase well. Even in the IPL, it's a chasing ground. Heading into the World T20 though, we need to improve areas as a team. We know we're one of the top chasing teams. Batting first is something we're also looking to strengthen."
After the end of the match, the plan clearly backfired. India were restricted to 134/9 and South Africa won the match by nine wickets to level the three-match series 1-1. Quinton de Kock was the star with an unbeaten 79 but the damage was done by a fine spell from Beuran Hendricks and Kagiso Rabada. Kohli said certain risks had to be taken if the team has to gain something and for that, it required them to come out of their comfort zone.
"we will have to take risks. Even when you want to win a game of cricket you have to take risks, so nothing is a given, nothing is a guarantee before you start playing. I think as a team if we are willing to get out of our comfort zone a lot more, then we will be unfazed with what happens at the toss. That's our basis idea: trying to take the toss out of the equation as a side. Mentally, if we put ourselves in a situation where we are ready to do anything rather than wanting to do one thing, we will be in a better position as a side to capitalise on any situation that we are in. Unless you do that, unless you start taking those risks, you are always going to be put under somewhere or the other. We want to make sure that we iron all those out before we head into the World Cup," Kohli said.
The Indian cricket team bat deep and it was the depth which prompted Kohli to do something different. However, only Shikhar Dhawan managed a top score of 36 with the rest of the batting folding up cheaply. Kohli admitted that South Africa executed their plans better and India could not adapt. "We realised the pitch didn't allow us to keep doing that. So I think the kind of start we got, 63 for one after that, I think we could have reassessed, thing about 170 rather than 200. Not to take anything away from South Africa, they hit the right areas, they bowled really well, understood the pitch. So it was a combination of good bowling, not great decision-making but, as I said, these kinds of games will keep happening. As long as we are wanting to come out of our comfort zone and putting ourselves in situations which could be the case in a big tournament," Kohli said.
With only Hardik Pandya taking a wicket, India were soundly thrashed but Kohli pinned the blame on the batsmen for not setting up a big total. "Bowlers coming out of their comfort zone mean at least they get 160 (to defend). You can't defend 130, we didn't get it right with the bat and you can't be too harsh on the bowlers in a T20 game with this kind of total when there is a bit of dew as well. They should not be analysed or criticised on defending this low total. We didn't have enough runs on the board, so the bowlers are always under pressure knowing that one or two overs can take the game away from you. But I think they have done decently well (in the series overall), we will have to be patient with the combination we are playing at the moment. We will have to strengthen one or two things," Kohli said.
With the three-match Twenty20 International series done, the focus now shifts to the three-match Test series and it will South Africa's first in the ICC World Test Championship.