I Don’t Get Satisfied After Getting A Hundred: Virat Kohli

From preparation to execution, captain Virat Kohli puts into perspective his record-breaking run.

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Australia are yet to arrive in India for their upcoming high profile four-match Test series, but they have already confessed they don’t have any plans to contain Virat Kohli. It is the feeling that West Indies went through in Antigua, New Zealand in Indore, England in Mumbai and Bangladesh in Hyderabad. In four consecutive Test series, the Indian captain has got four double hundreds. He has eclipsed Sir Don Bradman and former India Captain and current India A and U-19 coach Rahul Dravid, who scored double tons in three consecutive Test series.

In the lead up to the Test against Bangladesh, Virat did not immerse himself in the nets. Change in formats do not matter to him. He even opened in the recently concluded T20Is against England, but when he is back in the whites, his aggressive intent takes a different form. En route to his double hundred, he had three partnerships and he was the dominant force in all three. At the same time, also collected 108 running runs. He got his first fifty in 70 balls, the second in 60 and his third fifty in only 40 balls to reach the 150-run mark. There was no big hit, no six. In fact, in this home season in Tests, he has hit just a solitary six.

When width was provided or a short ball bowled, he made full use, yet 67 per cent of his runs were in front of the wicket. Of the 127 runs he scored against the spinners, the shot that got him his double was his first lofted one. It is a model based on traditional scoring methods, insane fitness levels, mental superiority, the desire to outperform himself and an insatiable hunger for excellence.

After his record-breaking double ton, the Indian captain spoke to BCCI.TV and explained how the added responsibility brings out the best in him.

It started off from Antigua and you now have a double hundred in every series. You’ve even surpassed Sir Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid.

I think it is because of captaincy that you tend to go on more than you would as a batsman. I think there is no room for complacency when you become the captain. I have always wanted to play long innings. My first seven-eight (seven) hundreds were not even 120 plus scores and after that I made a conscious effort to bat long. (I) Controlled my excitement and worked on not getting complacent at any stage. I have worked on those things and have worked on my fitness over the years. I feel like I can go on for longer periods. I don’t get tired as much as I used to before. I definitely don’t get satisfied when I get a Test hundred which was the case before because I used to give too much importance to Test cricket separately. Now, I have just started to treat it as any (other) game of cricket and I have to keep going on till the time my team needs me to.

You opened the batting recently in T20Is. Despite the change in format from white ball to red ball, you are able to bat the way just like the way you want to. How do you manage to do that?

It is not an easy thing to do with the amount of cricket we play nowadays. It is more of a mental thing. I don’t necessarily focus too much on practice. Sometimes, you don’t get to practice too much, but mentally you need to focus and think about what you are going to do in the game. Switching to different formats is the need of the hour and I want to contribute in all three formats. It has always been my mindset. I have to prepare a certain way. It is more mental than getting into the nets. I think about the game a lot.

It surely must not be as easy to bat for so long and get a big score as you made it look like here in Hyderabad?

The wicket was really good to bat on to be honest. It wasn’t as testing as other wickets that I scored centuries on. To get a double hundred you need to bat for a long period and you need to do things right to get to that score. The focus was only to follow my intent and at the same time, be careful about choosing my shots. Luckily, I struck the right balance in this particular innings and it feels good to have got a big score.

You were spot on with your first review. What made you not opt for the second one?

If the ball has spun from right under my eyes when I am batting on 180, it has to spin a lot for me to miss it as I had been connecting all. It wasn’t a lapse in concentration. The ball really spun sharply from the front of my pad. We had two reviews left. If I got out, I would’ve been the fifth batsman to get out and others could still use the one review left.

For the other, I thought I was plumb in front. I was falling back when I got hit on the pad as well and that’s why the umpire could not give not out either. I wasn’t standing there, I was falling behind. If you look at the real-time replay it looks plumb. The umpires don’t have a replay and so do the players. I didn’t want to use a review that I felt like I was plumb in front because a Saha, Jadeja or Ashwin could be nearing a milestone and they could use it for themselves as well. The second one to me felt like I was plumb and that’s why I started walking briskly as well. No grudges with the umpire either as it happened way too quickly for them to understand where it actually impacted the pads.

© Moulin Parikh, BCCI

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

Virat Kohli On Why He Won’t Discuss His Personal Life Anymore

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Virat Kohli is mindful that the golden streak he is enjoying as a batsman and captain could come to an end at any time. And though he hates losing, he knows enough to value it. “Success makes you feel like everything is fine. But failure creates self-doubt, which eventually leads you to understand yourself better. Ninety per cent of what I have learnt, I have learnt from failing.”

None of this means he’s lost the fire; some things can still provoke his rage. Attacks on his girlfriend, for instance. In March this year, he took to Instagram and Twitter to slam trolls for targeting Sharma when India beat Australia in a T20 match (the two were supposedly on a break then). Sharma had been on the receiving end of much online abuse since last year for “distracting” Kohli and was blamed, first for India’s semi-final loss to Australia in the 2015 World Cup and then for his poor performance in the series against South Africa in October. The relentless barrage has made him even more protective of his personal life. Kohli, off the pitch, is now strictly out of bounds for everyone except a handful of friends and family. “I don’t know why people are so intrigued by what we [cricketers] do on a daily basis,” he says. “It’s none of their business.”

In less than a decade since he joined the hallowed ranks of the Men in Blue, Virat Kohli is all grown up. The bad boy of Indian cricket has stealthily turned into one of the best cricketers in the world for no other reason than his limitless drive to learn and be better. Indian cricket is in good hands. Bring out the banners, the snacks, the flags and the whistles. Turn on the television and enjoy world domination.

© Urvashi Pant, ELLE India

Virat Kohli’s Interview With Michael Vaughan For The Telegraph

‘People think I’m Superman’ – Michael Vaughan meets world cricket’s biggest star.

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As cricketers in England we think we are quite famous. On a good day maybe one or two people will recognize us in the street and say hello.

Life for Virat Kohli is very different. For a start, he cannot walk down the street. Going out for dinner is akin to a military operation and he tells me he loves the solitude of overseas tours when he puts his headphones on and takes a stroll around a park in Melbourne or London without being mobbed.

How do you handle the adulation of a billion people? Sachin Tendulkar has coped with it since the age of 16 and Kohli admits himself he was once one of those who stood in awe of the Little Master, barely able to speak to him when they first shared a dressing room.

But Sachin was not the only legend in his team. There was Sourav Ganguly, the Prince of Calcutta, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni – all giants of Indian cricket.

Kohli stands alone now, particularly with Dhoni retiring from the Test arena. His social media accounts total more than 50million followers. Earlier this year ESPN placed him eighth on the list of the most famous sportsmen in the world, one place below Tiger Woods and ahead of any Englishman. His earnings are said to top $60million. The Indian papararazzi follow his every move.

He has moved house in Delhi due to people constantly ringing his doorbell and tells me how he once struggled to live with the adulation before learning to accept it. He still looks forward to the day when it is someone else’s turn in the spotlight.

“I tried to fight it initially,” he reveals. “This country loves comparisons. The moment I started doing well I was already compared to him [Tendulkar] but it is like chalk and cheese in my book. People come up and have debate and say you can break his records. You fight it for a while. You think why me? There are 10 more people in the team why do I have to go through this?

“There was so much persistence from the fans letting them know what they wanted from me. I stood on the boundary and all they say is they want a century from me. But then I realised that over a period of time you set those benchmarks and those standards for yourself.

“It is part of being a cricketer in India. It is part of the package that people love you. If you run away from it, it is going to haunt you, pressurise you and pull you down.

“I started to appreciate it. After a while I thought these people love me, they want me to do well. It is just they have a different way of expressing it. I needed to process it in my head. It is important to have a set of people you connect to and in touch with regularly and not be friends with everyone and out there for everyone.

 

“I have a strong family structure, very close with my family, few friends.

“Those things really matter especially in this country where there are so many distractions, people wanting a piece of you. It is very important to stay close to reality about what actually matters.

“I understand that after 10-12 years this will all go way. The next in line will be the one who gets it. He will go through that and I look forward to 12 years’ time rather than being in it now and getting carried away with it.”

We meet in the India team hotel in Visakhapatnam just hours after Kohli’s side have won the second Test, with the captain scoring 248 runs in the match, the fourth highest tally in a Test by an Indian skipper.

We sit in a boardroom in the executive lounge behind glass doors watched by a handful of England fans, who are concentrating more on their evening beer than Kohli. It is a bit different when he wants to pop of out of the hotel.

“It takes a lot of planning. For dinner you need a police guard in front of the vehicle you are travelling in, then you need to inform people at the restaurant to keep a table in the corner, not have any people close to that table. The main thing in our country is people like to grab you and touch you and feel if you are real or not. I promise you.

“I clearly remember after a World T20 game in Mohali against Australia this year. I felt people were reacting in a different way towards me, they looked at me as if I was walking in a circular light or something.

“I came out of security in the airport and there was this one guy who came up to me. I told security to calm down. He stood next to me and said ‘show me your hands’. I held them out and he touched them and it was as if a flow of current went through his body. I said ‘bloody hell’. I was so embarrassed. I think he thought I was Superman or something.

“When I go away from India I go for a walk alone for an hour. You do get recognised in countries that play cricket but they will wave and walk off. That is nice. That is fine to not have someone barge into your space.

“In India it can be difficult to control it. So when you go to play Australia or South Africa I usually do not make plans with anyone. I just walk around to get a feel of what it is like to just walk down the street. It is amazing. It is the best thing ever. I just put my music on, walk and go nowhere in particular. It is best thing in the world to be able to spend some time alone with myself.”

 

Kohli is 28 and at the top of his game. He is a wonderful batsman and captaincy is bringing the best out of his batting. He has made seven hundreds in 19 Tests and is the epitome of the modern Indian cricketer.

He is super fit, honed by a gym routine that he believes has made him a stronger hitter of the ball and mentally sharper in the field. He is a brilliant fielder, the best I have seen from India. He is leading a young team that he can mould. He wants to win all around the world, and break India’s habit of being satisfied by the odd Test match win overseas. He wants to win series and for this to be the fittest Indian team ever.

“Duncan [Fletcher, former India coach] told me once that he feels cricket is the most unprofessional of professional sports,” he says. “You can have the skill but do not think you need to train as much as a tennis player. But I realised if you want to stay on top playing three formats in this day and age you need a routine.

“You need a set pattern of your training, the way you eat, how healthy and fit you need to be. Being fitter made me mentally stronger. It was like a direct connection.

“It changed in 2012. I had great tours to Australia and scored 180 against Bangladesh and went into the IPL thinking: ‘Wow this is going to be a great season for me’. I wanted to make it my tournament and dominate the bowlers. I really struggled.

“My training was horrible, I ate so bad, I was up until late, I was having a drink or two regularly. It was a horrible mindset. The season ended and I was so thankful it was over. I went home, came out of the shower one day and looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘you can’t look like this if you want to be a professional cricketer.’

 

“I was 11 or 12kgs heavier than I am now, I was really chubby. I changed everything from the next morning from what I eat to how I train. I was in the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day. Working really hard, off gluten, off wheat, no cold drinks, no desserts, nothing. It was tough.

“For the first two months I felt I wanted to eat the bed sheet when I went to sleep because I was so hungry. I was craving taste. I was craving delicious food. But then I saw the results. I felt quick around the field. I would wake up in morning and feel like I had energy.

“From 2015 I changed my training again. I started lifting, snatching, cleaning and dead lifting. It was unbelievable. I saw the result. I remember running after a ball in a Test series in Sri Lanka and I felt more power in my legs. It was, like, ‘wow’. This training is addictive. The last year-and-a-half it has taken my game to another level.

“One of the things I would love is for this team to win series outside India, not just in one place but everywhere we go. For me it is not winning one Test match and saying we made history and then not being able to follow that up. I want us to be the fittest Indian team that has played the game as well.

“That is our goal to be become better people along years of playing together. Friendships to last. Most exciting thing is everyone is young building careers together. If things fall in the right place this could be a great phase for us.”

I am always interested in how sportsmen become who they are. What happened in childhood to make them take up their sport? What are their earliest memories? I remember my first cricket bat. It was a Gunn and Moore Skipper. What about Virat?

“It was RNS Larsons. I bought it from a sports shop. I still have a picture of me trying to bat with it. It was about 1000 rupees and pretty decent for the time. That was one of the challenges, getting the right stuff.

“We were not financially blessed, we could not afford to get stuff we wanted all the time so had limited options and had to make the most of it.

“I think cricket chose me. My memory of growing up is me holding a cricket bat. It is the only game I played. As soon as I got hold of a bat I wanted someone to throw a ball at me for me to smack it. I am lucky that I am the third child in the family so there was not much pressure on me in terms of academics and making sure I got a degree and stuff. I was the one who was pampered because I am the youngest and I took advantage of it.

“I used to play more than my friends because they were the oldest children in their families. It makes a massive difference in India. You can just go out there and I found out more about myself and skill in those years which may not have happened if I had been restricted. My initial memories of knowing India the cricket team was around 1994. I was six. I saw this passion with the crowds.

“They used to pan the camera around and you see people with banners going mad and if they lose they burn effigies, so I was amazed. Why so much interest in this particular game? It grew on me.

“My earliest memories are of watching Sachin bat. Watching his passion for the game, he was very different to everyone else and I would try to copy what he did.”

He remembers first seeing Sachin in the flesh, aged 12 in a hotel but was too scared to talk to him. Sachin was invited to speak to Kohli and the India under-19s team before a tour to New Zealand. “I don’t remember a word he said because I kept looking at him. You cannot express your feeling when you see the person who is the reason why you started playing the game and you wanted to become like him and then he just walks up. Those five seconds were the worst I swear.”

Years later as team-mates he says the hardest thing was telling Sachin he liked a drink. “It is a very Indian thing in front of your seniors you do not want to admit you drink or go to parties. Guys were very strict about it when I was growing up. He asked me for a drink. I said I don’t drink. He persisted. I said I don’t drink. Eventually I said I will have four ice cubes. From then on it was pretty easy.”

Sachin helped him through his toughest time after the 2014 tour to England when Kohli averaged 13.40 and struggled against the swinging ball.

“I came back and went to Bombay for 10 days. I spoke to him. He spent time with me. He said he had watched me in England and he helped me with a few technical things that are important at this level in terms of getting a good stride in, always having intent when playing the ball and never being unsure of what to do at the crease.

“I never had a forward press but he told me you should go forward to a fast bowler like you would defend a spinner. Do it with the same conviction is the only way you can be in a good position to tackle, swing seam or anything you want.

“We ended up speaking a lot during that phase. Those things worked out for me. Then I spoke to him about preparation. I said in Test cricket I see a lot of guys batting in the nets, they want to hit 200-300 balls before the game. I feel I am ready and tend to overdo things because I am so desperate to do well so go away from my routine.

“He told me the importance of mentally staying relaxed. If you do not feel like hitting the ball, don’t hit it. Do not look at other people having a great net session for long hours, go off, try and do the same thing and come out frustrated. That helped me a lot.

“When trying to build a career you straight away try to make sure everything is in sync for you to do well. Sometimes you have to make your own decisions and because he had played for so long, the expectations and consistency made a lot of sense. Form then on I followed what I wanted to do.”

And now others are following him as captain. But the IPL has made cricketers like Virat feel more real to the young players now emerging. The sense of awe has gone. “These guys coming into team now I have played cricket with at some stage in the IPL so they know what it is like not to be nervous or intimidating so that sort of environment is not there anymore. Now we crack a joke or two, take a selfie maybe and then they are fine.”

I think there should be a ‘Virat Cam’ at every Test because he is so animated on the field. He would not make a good poker player. “I am very expressive as a person that comes out on the field and is more to do with the fact I am not in control of all things and I get frustrated. It is something I want to improve on.

“I have curbed down celebrations with milestones [centuries, fifties]. It feels like this is what I am supposed to do so why show much excitement? It is what I am picked to do.”

So, what about England? One nil up after two Tests, India are in control of the series – even if they lost to England from a similar position in the past.

“The Rajkot game was good for us. We were challenged. We knew this England team would show resilience and character and there were alarm bells for us in the first Test. It was good that happened early in the series.

“We can’t afford to play loose cricket with this England team at any stage and we need to tighten the screws if we get a chance. In the second game we did that. We capitalised and got the result we wanted. It has gone well so far but in the past we have let the momentum go away from us. But this team is focused to carry it forward.”

© Michael Vaughan, The Telegraph

Virat Kohli’s Exclusive Interview Ahead Of The India vs West Indies Paytm T20 Trophy In USA

The Indian Test Captain speaks about cricket’s expansion, leadership group in the team and lots more in an interview.

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The Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni & Anil Kumble huddle.

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.

Which is your favourite American sport – baseball, basketball or American football?

Well, basketball. It was globalized by Michael Jordan. I think he is the greatest of that sport and one of the greatest sportsmen ever. He created that excitement even in India with Basketball. Everyone I knew was a fan of Chicago Bulls because of Jordan. We used to catch those games every now and then. So, basketball is one of the American Sports towards which I have been inclined. I haven’t really followed the others.

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