Captaincy Does Not Allow You To Be Complacent, Says Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli maintained that captain was only as good as his team, refusing a verdict on his leadership.

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Virat Kohli said when you are leader of the side batting becomes a more serious job.

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

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

Important To Back Your Top XI – Virat Kohli

‘Rahane deserves to walk back into the team’ – Kohli.

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Virat Kohli has said that India are unlikely to make too many changes, particularly in their batting line-up, as the think-tank looks to back players and give them confidence. The India captain has also said that youngsters who have performed will be groomed further as the team looks to build on its bench strength.

If India opt to not play six batsmen in this game, Karun Nair could miss out despite his triple-hundred in India’s previous Test. Kohli said that Nair has done well to stay in the squad but if it comes down to picking between the two players, the more established Ajinkya Rahane will get the call. Nair, who made his debut in the third Test against England in Mohali, got two more opportunities after Rahane was forced out due to a finger injury. India coach Anil Kumble had also said the side had not forgotten Rahane’s performances over the last two years.

Kohli said that while certain conditions may dictate the selection of an extra pace bowler or spinner, the batting line-up is likely to be kept consistently similar

“You need to back players for a long time for them to become match-winners and have long careers. I think bowlers can be switched according to conditions. You might want to play seamers or three spinners, some guys might have more pace or reverse swing, you can change those.

“I think from a batting point of view you need big runs in Test cricket, and to chop and change continuously doesn’t let them gain confidence. People who have been regular in the XI need to be given a chance. If form or that kind of thing happens you are subject to that change, otherwise it’s important to back your top XI. At the same time, you need to keep those youngsters within the squad and groom them. I think communication is a big thing on that front and we do that very well with the management, conveying to the players what they want.”

Kohli said that India’s bench is filled with cricketers who can step up to replace the incumbents when needed. “Bench strength gives you options when people are injured. That’s where it comes. An injury should not deplete a team; that’s something that bench strength contributes from. We are lucky to have guys who are up and ready for Test cricket. Jayant [Yadav] walked in beautifully. In T20s and one-dayers you saw [Yuzvendra] Chahal and Kedar [Jadhav] stepping up. We do have a pool of players who are coming up nicely. Credit obviously goes to the selectors for identifying them, and to the players as well who practise their disciplines regularly, that’s how you come up into that pool.

“I think it’s a back-and-forth sort of thing where you identify players but they have to put in the effort, which they have. So we’ve been lucky. We have good bench strength going forward. God forbid if there is any injury, we have two-three guys to fill up positions,” he said.

Kohli said that the India bowling attack’s patience during partnerships had helped them win seven of the eight home Tests this season, against New Zealand and England.

“I think is what we have done well over the last four Test matches not before, I would say, is be patient when there’s been a partnership. I think there was one instance in West Indies in Jamaica when we kept going positive and we didn’t hold back and we couldn’t take 20 wickets and the bowlers got tired,” he said. “I think we have done the patience bit very well in the series against New Zealand and England, bogging down the batsman and earning the wickets in difficult situations in the game.

“That’s something we want to do and to improve on as a team. When everyone is young, everyone is excited in the team. Sometimes people tend to get carried away and you don’t understand the importance of being patient.

“But I think the guys have worked hard on their fitness, they don’t mind bowling dot balls without attacking the batsman throughout the day. They have the fitness to bowl all day in one channel and when the door opens, just sneak in. That’s the biggest learning we have had in the past season and we’d like to take that forward.”

© Mohammad Isam, ESPN Sports Media Ltd.