“My biggest challenge was to not think too much about the situation that I was in” © Associated Press
Trying to preempt the opposition and looking ahead by a few overs while at the crease are some of the methods Virat Kohli uses to great effect in limited-overs cricket. He is soo good at it that succeeding in balancing his natural game with batting for survival in the first Test was a “revelation” to him.
On the final day of the Rajkot Test against England, with India slipping to 71 for 4 soon after tea on a pitch that had begun to take sharp turn, Kohli had to keep things simple.
“My biggest challenge was to not think too much about the situation that I was in,” Kohli said. “I think to find that balance was a revelation.
“Sometimes you tend to overthink, thinking too much about where the bowler is going to bowl or what he is going to do next to get you out and how much time is left in the day. Rather than that I was just focusing on one ball at a time and trying to take my mind off the situation.
“Not thinking too much actually helps a lot in that particular situation. You need to put your mind off and back on as soon as possible, and to play that one particular delivery. So I think that was something that was a challenge for me which I was able to overcome in the second innings and that gave me more pleasure as a batsman than scoring a big hundred or getting a big score.”
There has been pressure on the Indian bowling unit after they had to deal with a pitch not entirely to their liking in Rajkot. Amit Mishra was picked as the third spinner keeping in mind the batting-friendly history of Rajkot, but he came out of the Test – his first in three months – conceding more than four runs an over in both innings. He told bcci.tv that he felt under-prepared.
Kohli came to Mishra’s defence on the eve of the second Test in Visakhapatnam, saying the odd bad day “can happen to any bowler” and that when judging a player, his willingness to fight mattered more than statistics.
“Obviously in a series where you are playing against a top side, there is very less room for grooming people as such, if you get what I am saying,” Kohli said. “You need to figure out as a captain how comfortable you are with the guys you are going to take the field with and how mentally prepared and aware they are walking into the field and how confident they are of picking up those wickets for you. What you mentioned is something that can happen to any bowler, being out of rhythm or not having a good game. But eventually you have to figure out over a span of two or three days how the individual is feeling, how he is behaving, what his energies are like.
“So it is very important to observe all those things walking into a game against a top side because you need 11 players who are on the same page and who are aware and ready to go into battle. You can’t have people who are not quite there mentally. Those are the things we figure out as a management group and obviously we would like to take the best possible 11 onto the field and the best bowlers who are mentally ready to pick up 20 wickets for us.”
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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