Mumbai: Team India’s 2017-18 tour of South Africa won’t be forgotten anytime soon. After narrowly losing the Test series 2-1, Virat Kohli and team retaliated ruthlessly to bag the ODI and T20 series in style. Not only did they dethrone the Proteas to achieve the numero uno spot in the ICC ODI rankings but also scripted history in the rainbow nation by winning it’s first ever series (across all formats) on South African soil.
One of the players at the receiving end, Quinton de Kock reflected on the series loss and spoke at length regarding a variety of topics on Indian cricket.
You have played with and against Virat Kohli. What is his character like?
Virat is very competitive by nature and he just wants to be the best. He just wants to win. When you have that sort of attitude in a guy that always wants to win, who always wants to be the best, only good can come from it. That’s what has happened in his career and through his leadership that has made him win many tournaments. He keeps doing well against other teams. It shows from international terms, there’s nothing much you can ask from a player who always wants to give his hundred percent and make his country proud.
Is he emotional as he seems on camera?
When you play against him, he seems very emotional but when you play with him it’s just Virat being Virat. He is just passionate to bat, even when he plays football. If he doesn’t win and doesn’t do well, he gets emotional. And it doesn’t catch up to him. A lot of players get caught up when they get emotional, but it just makes him a better player.
India has always struggled outside the subcontinent in the past, but what was different about them on that tour?
They came to South Africa and played the bounce really well. That’s something that is going to happen more in the future and they are not scared anymore. They were playing really well and there was nothing when the wicket was flat and good. Whether there was extra bounce and pace, there was nothing we could do to stop them, especially our fast bowlers. In the future, with a bit more pace and bounce on the wicket we will be able to string up a couple of wickets, but this year they were just too good. You have got guys like Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, led by Virat - who are one of the top batsmen in the world. These are guys with a lot of experience, who are not scared to play, guys who have played a lot of fast bowling, so obviously the confidence has grown. And for them to go and play against fast bowlers overseas and out of India, won’t be a problem in the future.
How surprised were you by the spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav?
When Yuzi and Kuldeep came to South Africa, they were very much unknown. I think that’s what we really struggled with as a team as to what and how they bowl. I have played against Yuzi a couple of times but not the other guys when AB de Villiers was with us. And the new players who had come into the team were struggling to pick Kuldeep. And he bowled really well, so slowly to us that we didn’t know how to counter-attack. They just bowled better and hopefully, next time we will be better.
How do you see the England vs India Test series shaping up?
It’s going to be a good contest. The Indian seam attack is one of the best I have faced at the moment. When we were in South Africa and played against them, they performed well on wickets where the margin for error is so small. And when they come to a seamer-friendly wicket, they are that just that good. The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma were impressive. And when these guys bowl on good areas consistently and put a wobble on the seam, you are always going to struggle to score runs. And we noticed that they have known how to swing the ball both ways, which was a key thing. So they are still learning but also one of the hardest you can face, as an opener especially.