I Got A MS Dhoni Signed Ball As Memorabilia: Virat Kohli

Team India captain reflects on the series win, the findings and a memorabilia to cherish.

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The common thread between geniuses is that they don’t consider their performance as an art. For them it is an outing to display character, class and consistency. The pundits can be in awe of what is at display, but for the genius it is the flow engineered by the state of mind.

Virat Kohli is one such genius in the making who shows a gung-ho attitude on the field and his youthful exuberance is something that would make you fall in love with the art of batting.

The teenager who led the India U-19 team to victory in 2008 is now the Indian Captain across all formats of the game, albeit one thing remaining constant – his hunger to win games.

2016 was one such year for Virat as he led the team in whites and made India reclaim the No.1 Test rankings. His growing maturity and show with the willow had impressed all and sundry and therefore he was recently handed over the reins of limited overs captaincy by MS Dhoni with India-England ODI series being his first assignment as India’s full-time captain.

India won the series 2-1 and the skipper spoke to BCCI TV on his ability to walk the talk, findings from the series and more..

Excerpts:

Captain, you once famously said that ‘we can’t always give excuses on transition and learning, it is time for results’. You have walked the talk and how.

Yes, it has been a series of finds, character building, people expressing themselves and not worrying about the number of games they have played. The team has showed character and intent of being smart cricketers, winning games for the country. There is no better feeling and I feel that the guys have really encashed the opportunity wonderfully and delivered every time we have been under the pump. Especially youngsters stepping up with special mentions to Kedar Jadhav and Hardik Pandya, the way they have performed in the series has been outstanding. Everyone has contributed throughout the series and that’s the hallmark of a good team.

Cricket pundits are raving about this one SIX of yours against Chris Woakes in the 1st ODI. How did you make it happen?

I don’t know (laughs). I think it was the momentum that I was in and the motivation to win a game for my country, understanding how many runs we need from the number of balls left and reacting to the ball coming in that area. I have never played a shot like that before, but to have executed that, I surprised myself as well. It is one of those shots that will remain as a memory in your career and you can sit back and say that this is one of those special things that happened to me. I’m grateful to have executed it.


Phrases like ‘King Kohli’ and ‘Captain Fearless’ have been doing the rounds everywhere. What do you think suits the best to you?

I prefer being the Joker in the change room.

Three moments from the ODI series that will stay with you for long and why?

Kedar’s batting performance in the 1st ODI.

Yuvi (Yuvraj Singh) and MS (Dhoni), the way they batted in the second game and the way Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) bowled in the death overs

The way Hardik and Kedar strung in the partnership (3rd ODI). I think it is commendable for two guys after having lost all the experienced guys in the team to stitch a partnership like this on a difficult wicket is something outstanding for me. These three events stand out for me because this is something that we always wish as a team to execute.

Most Captains have a ritual of picking up memorabilia after a series win. Have you picked up anything yet?

Well, MS gave me the match ball in the second game. The stumps are too expensive nowadays and they don’t allow us to take it home (smiles). He gave me the ball and told me that it was my first series win as captain and it is memorable. It was a special moment for me and I got the ball signed from him as well.

© BCCI
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Virat Kohli Proud Of Team India’s Unselfish Attitude

Virat Kohli said he was proud of the way his team bounced back after conceding 477 runs against England in the first innings of the Chennai Test.

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Virat Kohli said he could not have asked for anything more than an emphatic victory over England in the final Test after the series had already been clinched in Mumbai.

India demolished England by an innings and 75 runs in Chennai to register a historic 4-0 triumph over England. This must be sweet revenge for India, who had lost their last three successive series to England in 2011, 2012 and 2014.

England had piled up a mammoth 477 in the first innings in Chennai before India responded with 759/7 declared thanks to a triple hundred from Karun Nair and 199 from Lokesh Rahul. On a final-day pitch that had little in it for the spinners, Ravindra Jadeja then weaved his magic to pick up career-best figures of 7/48 as England were dismissed for 207 with little under 10 overs remaining in the day.

“Couldn’t have asked anything more and especially after winning the series 3-0 and performing like this. It’s an evidence of the character of this side and what the guys prepare like for a Test match, playing for the country,” Kohli said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

“They take a lot of pride and it was evident in the way we batted and bowled. We wanted the youngsters to do well. KL Rahul had a good domestic season but didn’t have a great outing and then came back and almost got a double century. Karun didn’t have two good Tests and then does this (an unbeaten 303).”

Kohli hailed his team for pulling off a spectacular victory despite being on the backfoot, having first lost the toss and then conceding a huge firsts innings total. But like they did throughout the series, India stuck to their guns and eventually trumped over England with their relentlessness.

Kohli, who became the first Indian captain to win nine Tests in a year, said he was aware of the psychological damage it would to England after India had taken a 282-run lead.

“It’s always tricky when you have scored 477 and then concede a lead of 282. Mentally and psychologically, it is always a dent. We knew that.

“We realized that once we got a couple of wickets, it will be a downward slide. They don’t want to be ina position after getting so many runs and be in a losing position. Jadeja did the job in both the innings. Hit right areas and made it uncomfortable for the batsmen. Intensity was top class,” Kohli said.

Kohli stressed he was proud of his team for having taken the toss out of the equation. India had lost four tosses in the five Tests of the series and had to bounce back after conceding 400 plus totals in the last two matches. The young captain was also proud of the way his players put the team before personal glory.

“Very proud. Toss and pitches were out of the equation. We were up against big totals and we won by an innings. Doesn’t happen too often in Tests. We work hard everyday and believe in us. We don’t care about what’s happening outside; what matters is what each one of us thinks about the other. There’s lot of respect and friendship in that dressing room and it’s evident on the field. Nobody is playing for himself. Every time we were put under the pump, we have tightened up on giving away wickets at crucial time, especially after intervals. We have improved on that.

“The lower order has deflated the opposition, scoring 200+ three times, and their hard work in the nets showed. Our pace was quicker than theirs, even the consistency was better, and it was very proud moment for me as an Indian captain, seeing the fast bowlers stepping it on. Kudos to the hard work they have put in in the past few months.”

© Rajarshi Gupta, indiatoday.in

We Don’t Feel Invincible, Says Skipper Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli and his team have been unbeatable in home Tests since 2012 but the captain said focus is on doing well in all formats.

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Virat Kohli said the Chennai match remains an important one for India.

The top-ranked Indian Test team is on a roll having triumphed in five straight series under Virat Kohli but the captain insists his side will have to keep winning consistently for the next 7-8 years to leave a mark on the world stage.

With the win in the Mumbai Test, the Kohli-led team secured the five-match series against England and the emphatic performance came after India got the better of New Zealand, West Indies, South Africa and Sri Lanka in the previous rubbers.

Asked about the air of invincibility surrounding the team ahead of the fifth Test starting on Friday, Kohli replied in the negative.

“Not really, we still understand we have got to play a lot of cricket everywhere in the world. It’s not only about this one period we are going through,” said Kohli.

“It (the phase) looks really good because we have come out of transition and immediately started winning games. But I wouldn’t take this as overconfidence.

“As I said, it’s an ongoing process which needs to be sustained for the next five-seven or eight years for us to become a top quality side and leave a mark on world cricket maybe known as one of the best teams to have assembled on the field.”

Kohli asserted that focus is on doing well in all formats and not just Tests.

“We want to do it across formats and make that mark for Indian cricket on the world stage. But it requires a lot of persistence and skill, lot of hard work on your fitness and those are the key factors which will decide where we go as a unit.

“We don’t feel invincible to be honest, we respect every opposition, we admit every time we are put under pressure, and we know teams are going to put us under pressure. We appreciate that, we accept that and we try to find a way out of it.

“I think that’s been the key for us and as I said it’s a process that should go on for another seven-eight years,” said the skipper, who has played an important role in the team’s success.

Talking about the dead rubber beginning on Friday, Kohli said the match remains an important one for the hosts.

“I don’t think we are looking at a collective series as 4-0. For us every game is separate from the other and the intensity and the motivation to win a Test match remains the same, whether we have won the series or haven’t won the series, or it’s drawn.

“We are not looking at a scoreline as such. We just want to continue what we have been doing. It takes a lot of hard work to win a Test match and to put a number to it, I think it would be unfair to the players and the series as well,” Kohli added.

The Indian spinners led by Ravichandran Ashwin have not just delivered with the ball but have also made valuable contributions with the bat, allowing Kohli to play five specialist batsmen and as many bowlers.

In the media interaction, Kohli again showered praise on Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and rookie Jayant Yadav, who scored a hundred in Mumbai batting at number nine.

“Their contributions with the bat have been outstanding. Hasn’t taken much from me at all to motivate them. I think Ashwin has set a benchmark for the other spinners to contribute with the bat as well.

“Jadeja has come of age with the bat in this series, we saw his knock in Mohali, where he went out with lot of confidence and scored 90 runs for us. Jayant Yadav as well. He gets inspired seeing Ashwin the way he improves his cricket every time. Jayant always has been a keen learner.

“All the fast bowlers as well. Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh (Yadav) have become so much better with the bat and they understand the importance of those runs.

“So as a captain it gives you more freedom to play five batsmen rather than thinking of another batsman when your bowlers contribute 120-130 runs in every game for you,” said Kohli.

Kohli said Jayant’s approach reminded him of the great England spinner Graeme Swann.

“Jayant, what he has done, he has come in and has his plans. Has a lot of control as well and he rushes the batsman. If you saw the way he got his wickets in Vizag he rushed Stokes, in Mohali he rushed Root where he got LBW.

“So he doesn’t give much time to react after the ball has pitched and he has those revs on the ball and the strength in his shoulder to keep pitching the ball in the right areas and not give you too much. I think Graeme Swann was very similar, the way he bowled.

“The pace control was magnificent without giving the ball too much air and that’s why he was so successful. That’s what I see with Jayant as well.

“So as a captain I know that the third bowler is one against whom the batsmen cannot independently go after and that brings him into the game at any stage whenever you want a wicket, Jayant is always there on the spot, making things happen and creating doubt in the batsman’s head,” said the star batsman who himself has been in top form in the series amassing 640 runs in four games.

Kohli’s knock of 235 at Wankhede was a treat to watch as he piled on the runs without taking any risk. He hit only a single six in the 511-ball innings. Kohli said he did not feel the need to play aerial strokes.

“It has been a conscious effort (to curb the six hitting instinct). Many times I felt like I can go after the spinners but I understand that I need to go in that extra hour or two hours for the team. I don’t feel the necessity to hit sixes, it is just an excitement of the batsman crossing 150, 160, you feel like expressing yourself.

“But then I realise that if I am scoring at 3 or 4 an over without trying to hit the boundary, I can rotate strike and do that for the team. I don’t necessarily need to take that big risk at any stage and cost the team some momentum,” he said further.

Kohli also praised the opposition players especially Joe Root, who is tipped to replace Alastair Cook as England captain. He, in fact, backed Root for the captaincy job.

“Joe is an outstanding player. I have been very fond of the player and the way he goes about things, he is very positive, always thinks of any situation as an opportunity. I don’t know what captaincy would do to that (approach).

© THE INDIAN EXPRESS

Virat Kohli Unhappy With England’s Christmas Break

Virat Kohli: ‘Either they stay the whole tour or we come back for 25 days as well’

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Virat Kohli has expressed displeasure at the Christmas break England’s players will have between the Tests and the limited-overs series in India. Kohli also asked for an eight-day gap between Tests on India’s away tours in the future, and did not sound happy that England, under pressure, were getting time to recuperate between the third and fourth Tests.

“We didn’t ask for the gap, it was part of the schedule,” Kohli said, when asked if the eight-day gap had helped the team after three back-to-back Tests. “Make sure when we go there, we also have eight days’ gap after three Tests and a 25-day gap between ODIs and Tests. We didn’t ask for it, but seeing the long season ahead, it did us no harm. It actually helped us rest a bit, reflect on what we have done in the two games that we have won, and visualise again and come back even more fresh compared to the last two Test matches.

On India’s previous tour of England, they had a five-day gap between the second and third Test, and six days between the third and fourth. The first two and the last two Tests were back-to-back, though a three-day finish in the fourth Test gave them a bigger break before the fifth.

Kohli’s larger objection, though, was to the 25-day gap between the last Test and the first ODI on England’s tour of India. It has been a practice for England to go home for Christmas and return for shorter formats when touring India. Kohli felt it gave them an advantage, one India did not have during their tours.

“Absolutely [England should not go home for the break],” Kohli said. “Or we should come back for a month as well from England. No point we play there for three-and-a-half months and everything we do is in the media’s eyes, even our off time is scanned. I don’t have any news of them enjoying their holiday in Dubai at all. I would like to see the same thing happen. Either they stay the whole tour or we come back for 25 days as well.”

India’s tour of England in 2014 spanned 74 days from their first tour game to the only Twenty20 international. India were away for four months in 2014-15, when they toured Australia for Tests, a tri-nation ODI tournament and the World Cup. Due to Phillip Hughes’ death just before the Tests, the schedule had to be rearranged. India were accommodating in those circumstances: they played practically four back-to-back Tests, and got about a week off between the tri-series and the World Cup.

No schedule is drawn up without the agreement of the BCCI, so this might be one for the bosses in Indian cricket.

Kohli saw the merit of a break. “Very important, even when you go home during the break,” he said. “Honestly, between series, you can’t completely switch off because it will always be there on your mind as to what you have to do in a match. As a captain, you will keep thinking about the combinations you can play, how will be the wicket … But not too much also. It’s important that you enjoy life beyond your profession.

“A lot of times in our country, we look at these things differently, that you have to keep thinking about cricket. But it’s up to you as an individual to weigh how much stress you can take, how much time you want away from cricket, and when do I have to refocus on the game.”

© Sidharth Monga, ESPN Sports Media Ltd.