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No excuses, there’s a lot to learn from this loss: Virat Kohli 

Galle, Aug 15 (IANS) India skipper Virat Kohli said the team needs to learn a lot and not give excuses following their 63-run defeat against Sri Lanka in the first Test of the three-match series here on Saturday.

Chasing a 176-run target in their second innings, India were bundled out for 112 runs with Sri Lanka’s left-arm spinner Rangana Herath claiming seven wickets at the Galle International Cricket Stadium.

Sri Lanka have taken a 1-0 lead in the series. The second Test begins in Colombo on August 20.

“I think all the players are disappointed by the way we batted today, as batting has been out strength in the past few months. There are no excuses and there is lot to learn from the loss today,” Kohli said at the post match press conference.

“We did not counter what was being thrown at us. I think we should have been smarter batting against the spinners. We had to take calculated risks in the fourth innings when we were chasing a small total and intent had to be there which I think was lacking. Definitely it’s an area of improvement,” he added.

The skipper also slammed the Indian batsmen for their poor performance on the fourth day, adding that the visitors were unable to consolidate their position after forcing the Lankans onto the back foot during their second innings.

The hosts, who had conceded a 192-run first innings lead, were struggling at 95-5 in their second essay before Dinesh Chandimal scored an unbeaten 162 to help them avoid an innings defeat and post a total of 367.

“We got no one to blame, but ourselves. Credit to Angelo Mathews and his team for playing good cricket today. We failed to capitalise after taking the first five wickets (in the second innings) and Sri Lanka dominated from there,” Kohli rued.

“One bad session and things can turn around quickly, that is Test cricket.”

The skipper was however, pleased with the performance of the Indian bowlers and praised them for taking 20 Lankan wickets.

“Our bowling in the second innings was spot on, infact in both innings. We were able to take 20 wickets which is important. As we had led from first innings our spinners went on attacking mode to take wickets,” he said.

“They countered that by playing fearless cricket. Just an hour and a half of bad session for us cost us the match.”

Speaking about Rohit Sharma’s recent poor run in the Test arena, Kohli said,”It is important to back your best players. People whom you think can be match winners for you.”

“The reason Rohit started getting more chances is because Cheteshwar Pujara was going through a phase where he wasn’t getting too many runs. So it was a case of giving another batsman a chance.”

“Now Rohit has got three to four chances. The idea was to persist with him. We surely need to sit and discuss as a batting unit as a whole, what the mindset is like and what are they willing to execute the plans we want them to,” he added.

Kohli also praised Chandimal, who received the man of the match award for his match-winning efforts with the bat.

“I am not shocked. Chandimal is a good player and we all know he is talented. He came into the squad and performed pretty well, he then had a tough phase in his career and again he delivered for his side. He is doing justice to his talent,” the 26-year-old said.

“We thought the wicket would be more difficult to bat, but credit to the way Dinesh and the rest batted. They really kept Sri Lanka in the hunt.”

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