Virat Kohli maintained that captain was only as good as his team, refusing a verdict on his leadership.
Virat Kohli on Wednesday said it was too early to pass a judgment on his captaincy but insisted he has become a better batsman after assuming the leadership role since captaincy does not leave any room for complacency. Kohli maintained that captain was only as good as his team, refusing a verdict on his leadership.
“I don’t judge myself after every series. Priority and the only goal that we have is to win games of cricket. Captaincy will be as good as how your team performs and how consistent the players are. If we are not playing to our potential as players, there’s not much I can do as captain.
“The more the team becomes mature, the captain starts looking good. If the team doesn’t do well, the captaincy bit seems out of control,” Kohli said on the eve of series-opener against Australia.
“Maybe five to eight years down the line I will be able to judge myself as a captain if I remain captain for that long. I feel personally it’s too early for me to sit down and judge what I have done well or haven’t,” he said.
Kohli, who has enjoyed a phenomenal run in recent past both as a batsman and captain, said when you are leader of the side, batting becomes a more serious job.
“Captaincy does not allow you to be complacent at any stage especially with the bat if that is your only discipline in the game, in the field as well. In that aspect I think complacency goes out the window as captain,” Kohli said on the eve of the series-opener against Australia.
“You tend to focus a lot more on certain situations which you might or might not without the extra responsibility on your shoulders and may play a loose shot.”
Kohli said it hold true for his Australian counterpart Steve Smith as well.
“Captaincy requires you to be on point throughout the game that’s one thing which has worked well for me and I think Steve Smith as well. He has been performing consistently with the bat and as captain as well. It’s the same scenario there as well. Captain’s responsibility has urged him to focus a bit more in certain situations and push that much extra for his team and that has shown in his performances.
“He is the no. 1 Test player in the world and there’s a reason for that. I can’t pinpoint any similarities in our career. I have seen him in the academy he was never a dominant batsman and it’s a remarkable achievement for someone starting his career as a leg-spinner.”
The young Indian batsman said he hardly thinks about others’ opinion about him even as he is quite comfortable in his skin now.
“I am pretty confident of where my game stands and pretty comfortable with myself as a person now. People writing articles or speaking about certain things, that’s their job. I have no control over it, they have to write or criticise or not criticise, that’s not in my control.
“I focus on my game and that’s the priority for me,” he said when asked about how he handled the pressure of being in the spotlight all the time.
The Indian team is approaching the four-Test series against Australia with a more settled frame of mind than against England, said Kohli.
“We come into the series much more confident and surer about us as a squad and what we want to do. Every match and series is challenging and we don’t see any series as high or low. All teams we had played were good quality teams. Australia is no different.
“England was a very tough series. We started off (home season) with a draw which we managed and which was not a convincing draw from our side. It was more of not letting the opposition win and from there on we turned things around.
“That took a lot of character and the team is in a different mind, space ever since that first game in Rajkot. The mindset has been different,” said Kohli.
The 28-year-old Delhi stalwart once again emphasised that his team members do not focus on the opposition but on their own strengths.
“We don’t need to focus too much on the opposition, at the same time we respect them. Last game we respected Bangladesh equally. Every opposition has to be respected on equal terms. We are not worried about the opposition’s combinations or what they want to come up with. We are pretty comfortable with what we want to do. That’s our strength, not focusing on opposition too much.”
He expected the track prepared for the game at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium as dry.
“Even in the one-day games that we have played here, the surface was dry underneath. It had a decent covering of grass which you need to keep for the surface to hold itself together. This time of the year when the summer comes in the wicket tends to get slower and lower. So that’s what we expect from this wicket as well.
“We expect it to turn from day two, day three. It’s very difficult to keep the wicket together. We understand exactly how the wicket’s going to play.”
He said the Indian pace bowlers were now comfortable with a more restrictive role they have been given to play.
“The pacers have stood out. People who have standout performances are the ones in the limelight but guys who have important contributions, especially with the ball, are the ones that take those important one or two wickets in between the innings to give the spinners a bit of rest and then come back and attack again. The pace bowlers have been able to do that.
“One reason for that is they are very comfortable in the roles they have been given. To run in hot conditions and not necessarily having the plan to attack all the time can be difficult. And that’s one reason for our success as well. People are playing selfless cricket and the fast bowlers have been the prime contenders for that.
“The way they have stood out during the England series and against Bangladesh as well. Just now in Hyderabad, Umesh, Bhuvi, Ishant all three of them. Even against New Zealand they came up with important contributions throughout the series. So it’s been a massive, massive factor for us in winning those series.”
He described Mitchell Starc, the Aussie pace spearhead, as a world class bowler.
“He has been hampered by injuries quite often, but the way he has evolved as a bowler, it’s been outstanding. I have played with him in IPL, I have faced him in my first tour to Australia. From then to now it’s a massive change. “He has learnt the art of reverse swing and bowling with the old ball as well is amazing to see, the way he has developed his skills. That’s something that every cricketer in the world would admire. He has really taken his game to the next level and that’s why he is counted among the top bowlers in world cricket and deserves to be there.”
Kohli said he understands the reason for the visitors to have brought so many slow bowlers.
“I am not surprised (with the side including four spin bowlers), coming to India playing in summers. Wickets are meant to be dry and they are meant to turn. You will have a stronger spin bowling attack then getting six seven fast bowlers. That is a pretty natural selection,” he said.
© THE INDIAN EXPRESS