© Associated Sources
© Associated Sources
The Indian Test Captain speaks about cricket’s expansion, leadership group in the team and lots more in an interview.
Just watch Virat Kohli on the pitch or in the nets. He puts so much passion into his batting, fielding or anything that can add value to team’s success. Watching him sweat it out between the 22 yards is akin to watching Van Gogh write a concerto, Amadeus-style.
Kohli’s growth both as a batsman and as a leader has been phenomenal. The clarity of thought, sense of security and teamsmanship also reflects in his interactions. We at BCCI.TV spoke to the Test Captain and found out more about what goes behind the huddle formed by him, MS Dhoni and Anil Kumble.
Excerpts from the interview:
Skipper first things first – Congratulations on the hat-trick of Test series’ win. You must be very pleased with that kind of a record.
Yes, it has been a really good season for us. Started off from Australia, we needed to get back on top as far as Test cricket is concerned and we have been able to do that because of the consistent performances by all the team members. Basically, one goal we have agreed to achieve and be on the same path. It has been a complete team effort. I know it might sound a bit repetitive but that is the truth. I mean everyone bought in the idea we got for Test cricket. The results have been pleasing so far even though we still have a long season ahead.
You have had a look at the ground here now. You first thoughts. And tell us about BCCI’s efforts to reach out to newer markets.
Well, I am pretty excited to be in Miami. I’ve heard about a lot of cricket being played here. It always fascinated me that cricket can be played here in the United States of America. It has happened for a while that the other teams have played. Now, it is the Indian team, which will play here. There is a lot of Indian population here in Florida, especially in Fort Lauderdale. The team is also delighted to be here.
We know how disciplined you are when it comes to your diet. Any American fast food that has tempted you so far?
Well, I love the hotdogs here. I came here in 2012 and had a quite a few hotdogs. Now I am completely off them, but if I ever had to have a cheat day, I will have a hotdog.
We are all intrigued to know what the conversation is like when Anil bhai, MS and you sit together. A bit of insight will be great.
Those are sort of management discussions about the team, about the combination. I cannot speak much about them on camera. One of the good things about Anil bhai is that he brings the vice-captain in. Even with me he used to bring in Ajinkya and we used to have discussions. He knows if something happens to me or something happens to MS (Dhoni) then we are the people to step-in. It is always good to have another voice to throw light on things, which we might not be thinking about. It is always a nice discussion while speaking to two intelligent people about the game.
© Rajlaxmi Arora, BCCI
Port of Spain: Indian skipper Virat Kohli has said that his team isn’t reading too much into the newly acquired number one ranking in the longest format as they prepare to take on West Indies in the fourth and final Test starting at Port of Spain on Thursday.
The visitors need to win the match to maintain their current spot, in light of Australia’s loss in Sri Lanka.
“It’s a nice incentive but it doesn’t really change anything for the team. Our goal has been to play good cricket and we’ve done that in the past year or so. And we want to continue with the same,” Kohli said today.
“Even last year, when we beat South Africa, because of some other team losing, we became number one for a brief period. To really become the best team in the world you need to play consistent cricket for a span of 3-4 years. This is pretty immediate and short-term incentive.
“You have to play sustained cricket for a good period of time to be the best team in the world. We have played good cricket that’s why we have climbed up the rankings, but if you see we have played lesser number of games than the other teams. It’s only after we play a good number of games that we can be judged. We’ve played good cricket but I think only at the end of the season, we can look back how we have played and then figure out where do we stand,” he said.
India will be looking to continue their dominance over the West Indies in this fourth Test. The biggest challenge facing the visitors will be the revised batting line-up, with Kohli again indicating that he will continue to bat at number 3.
“If we’re playing five batsman and if we are looking to bat someone at five, then the batting order we played in the last game works. When we play six batsmen and four bowlers, in home conditions maybe, then the combination might be different. But we are open to both,” he said.
“And personally, I don’t have to prepare differently. For me, the mind set matters before I go in to bat. It can be any position but if you are mentally fit you will be able to execute.”
There still could be a couple of changes, particularly since Murali Vijay is now fully fit and deserving of a call-up after suffering an unlucky thumb injury in the first Test. He is expected to partner KL Rahul, with Shikhar Dhawan sitting out. There could be one bowling change as well, if India are tempted to test their bench strength.
“If the wickets are drastically changing from one venue to the other, you will see a change here and there, especially with one bowler playing in front of the other. As far as the pool goes, we have a very good squad here. The stand-by players we have back home have the skill set as well. Everyone has been briefed about the roles they have to play. We have players who are ready accordingly,” Kohli said.
“One or two spots obviously will be available. But we can’t make too many changes in one series. And with a long season coming up, we are playing games at home too. So we want players to know that they are in the starting eleven so that they can prepare accordingly. We have done that pretty well in the last year and a half,” said Kohli further.
There is a consistent threat of rain here for the duration of the Test. Thus the pitch conditions might not reflect the ones before the start of the match, as the skipper pointed out.
“I had a look at the pitch yesterday (on Tuesday). There were a few damp spots. The covers came on very quickly today (on Wednesday) so I don’t know how much that has dried up. We would name a few more than the eleven tonight before taking a call on what would be the best combination in the morning,” he said.
“Apart from the damp spots, the surface looked pretty dry, and should have turn and bounce. That’s the feeling I got. If we have rain on and off then the seamers will get much more assistance. Even in the side nets today, the seamers were getting a lot of assistance. We have enough players to make a change in the squad at the last minute,” Kohli signed off.
When Virat Kohli announced at the toss in St Lucia that India were making three changes to their side, and that one person widely expected to step back into the side, M Vijay, was not doing so, your mind went back to Sydney, to his first Test as captain after MS Dhoni’s retirement.
India made four changes on that occasion. One, Wriddhiman Saha replacing Dhoni, was a forced change. The other three were, to varying degrees, unexpected. Shikhar Dhawan, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ishant Sharma went out of the side, and in their places came Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. There was even a surprise retention. KL Rahul, who had made the most nervous of debuts in Melbourne, scoring 3 and 1, kept his place.
It felt like what it was: a step into a new era, of a captain willing to make wholesale changes to his side, based on a mix of form, conditions, and gut feel. At the end of the St Lucia Test, Kohli elaborated on this willingness.
“Usually if you see very few people like change,” he said. “This team doesn’t think how others would react or what they might say. We put out a combination that’s best according to the pitch. When I came at No. 3 many people asked why I did it. But I am not fixated by my batting spot. If the team needs, I can open the batting too because that’s the rule applicable to everyone in the team.
“It’s not as if I will stay at No. 4 and others will shuffle their positions. To field a player like Rohit Sharma we had to make him bat at No. 5. To make that happen the other players will go one place up the order. That’s what we did. In bowling we replaced Umesh [Yadav] with Bhuvi [Bhuvneshwar] because we felt that since the ground is so good it would be easier to maintain the shine on the ball. The pitch was also hard, so there was carry.
“Bhuvi gave us the results, gave us breakthroughs with the second new ball. If you make three changes you might feel that it might to be too strong a reaction. But we realised that if we have to seal the series here then we had to make changes according to the conditions. We will not wait for another match because you never know if you play one or two bad sessions the series could be levelled. Our idea was that we have to seal the series here.”
The St Lucia result, a win by 237 runs despite rain washing out an entire day’s play, may suggest India’s changes worked a treat, but it wouldn’t be wholly accurate to say so.
The changes to the bowling attack seemed sound from the outset, and proved to be so. Bhuvneshwar was possibly unfortunate to miss out on the Man of the Match award after bowling the match-turning spell on Friday. Ravindra Jadeja gave India more control than Amit Mishra had done as a second spinner while also revealing a new side to his bowling: both his dismissal of Roston Chase in the first innings and Jermaine Blackwood in the second came from slow, flighted balls that invited drives outside off stump.
But the inclusion of Rohit, the promotions of Kohli and Rahane, and the absences of both Vijay and Pujara seemed too much of a shake-up when there was little wrong with the top order in the first place, and all that shuffling only seemed to compromise its solidity. It cannot be forgotten in the afterglow of victory that India were 126 for 5 on the first day of the match.
Equally, it would be silly to extrapolate from one performance and say India’s current top five cannot settle into a solid, all-weather unit. At the post-match presentation, Kohli suggested that India might continue with their rejigged batting order for now, and that Rohit might need a substantial run of games to find his feet as a Test cricketer.
“We made three changes and we understood Rohit needs to be backed at a particular position,” he said. “I batted at No. 3, Jinks [Rahane] at No. 4. Rohit is dangerous at No. 5. That means I take up the extra responsibility at No. 3. I don’t mind that and someone like [R] Ashwin is batting well [at No. 6]. And we can play five bowlers.”
In saying Rohit needed to be backed in a particular position, Kohli reinforced an essential truth of Test cricket, that horses-for-courses selections are generally limited to changes in the bowling attack. It’s only in bowling that one style is dangerous in one set of conditions and less so in another. Batsmen need a certain amount of stability, and perhaps batting line-ups too. India, who have fielded three different top threes in three Tests, have not had that through this series. A combination of form, circumstance, and gut feel has given Kohli a top five he seems to like. Whether it can live up to the belief he has in it remains to be seen.
© Karthik Krishnaswamy, ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The two icons join forces for our GQ India Magazine’s issue.
Virat Kohli never misses the chance to make a style statement when he’s travelling: His accessories are always on point and his penchant for luxury leather bags is evident every time he’s photographed at the airport.
The Damier, the iconic checkerboard pattern that decorates many of French fashion house Louis Vuitton’s accessories, dates back to 1889. But its rich, dark blue colour that’s both discreet and sophisticated finds favour with a new generation of icons who prefer elegance over flash. Kohli is one of them.
What was your first LV purchase?
I bought a pair of loafers from the Bengaluru flagship back in 2010. But since then I’ve been more inclined towards buying bags. It’s nice to buy different accessories in the same pattern to create a set of sorts.
What do you look for while buying leather accessories?
I don’t like anything too loud. I prefer subtle details and utility is very important. The Damier pattern works for me because it’s easy on the eye. I recently got a Louis Vuitton bag, which has wheels and doubles up as a duffle, which I use all the time.
How many bags do you have?
Too many. When I see something nice, I just pick it up. It’s not a bad thing to have too many because you can pick and choose according to where you travel.
How do you pack?
I like to keep my suitcase organized. I know what I want to wear at what point. Otherwise you’re just stuffing in clothes and then you have to worry about ironing. I have these pouches for T-shirts and undergarments, which I stack at the base. Then I put in my shirts and shoes. It’s like Tetris. I don’t like overstuffed suitcases.
What would we find in your everyday bag?
My wallet, credit card holder, a pouch for my chargers – I hate when wires spill out in my bag – a tablet to watch TV shows and movies, a dock to play music, mints, a book maybe and a couple of sunglasses.
Do you have a lucky charm?
I have an Om pendant with a pearl. My mom gave it to me when I was younger to help control my temper and I always wear it on the field while playing.
What’s your morning routine like?
It depends on how quickly I have to get out of the house – normally I like to wake up and take my time. I’ll eat almonds, drink water, read the paper at home. I like to chill before I actually get going.
Three things that every man must have in his wardrobe?
Good shoes, a good watch and a good bag.
© GQ India