India Test skipper Virat Kohli believes much-improved batting performance from his side's lower-order batsmen namely Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha led to their 2-0 Test series win against West Indies.
Ashwin, who was promoted to No. 6 in the batting order, smashed centuries in Antigua and St Lucia while Saha contributed significant 40s in the first two Tests before scoring his maiden Test ton of 126 in the third match.
While praising Ashwin and Saha, Kohli said that the duo emerged as the biggest positives in the four-match Test series against the Caribbean side.
"It's been pretty good for us, a lot of positives, a lot of things we wanted to improve on we have. For me the biggest positive was Saha getting runs in the lower order plus Ashwin coming good at No. 6," Kohli said after frustrating weather forced India to settle with a draw in the fourth Test at Queen's Park Oval and denied them defend their top spot in the world's rankings.
The second match between the two sides also ended in a draw at Beausejour Stadium in St. Lucia.
Kohli admitted he was glad to see his side's lower order making improvement, adding he hopes that they would keep on making the aspect stronger in the coming future.
"Those were areas that were very important for us to solidify and we have done that in this series. I'm pretty happy. I hope we can keep on making that aspect of our team stronger because when you are in a tough situation in Test matches those are the positions that matter a lot. We've seen teams who have done well and won consistently, their lower order has contributed, especially the bowlers," he said.
Despite the success of the lower-order batsmen in the first three Tests, India went into the final match with six batsmen, a wicketkeeper, and only four bowlers.
Reflecting on the reason to do so, the swashbuckling batsman said that he wanted to try different combinations keeping in mind the upcoming home packed season.
"We thought that we lost a Test in Galle [in 2015], we were a batsman short there," Kohli said. "In the series against South Africa at home as well we were in trouble quite a few times because we were a batsman short. We wanted to try out this combination. If we play four specialist bowlers back home, when we feel we don't have the need for the fifth bowler... if you play three spinners on spin-friendly wickets that should get the job done. Even if you play two spinners and two quicks, Rohit [Sharma] and [M] Vijay can come in and bowl ten overs for me," the 27-year-old insisted.
"Away from home you need all your best bowlers because you don't know what the conditions will do or how the wicket will behave. That is an aspect that we felt, against the strong teams that we are going to play against at home, world-class sides, they are going to capitalise on those windows of chance that we give them [if we only play five batsmen]," he was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.
Kohli also could not stop him gushing over India's pool of fast bowlers, saying that all of them have started taking responsibility and have understood the areas that need improvement.
"How Shami's come back [from injury] as well, how Bhuvi has come back to full fitness, he's bowling good speeds with swing as well. Ishant has always been consistently hitting good areas for us. You will see, with him, not having too many wickets in three to four innings, but suddenly he'll pick you a seven-for or six-for. That's why we back a guy like Ishant, because, against top-quality sides, he can still keep hitting those areas and he puts the batsman under pressure," he said.
The two sides will now play two T20 internationals on August 27 and August 28 at Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Florida.