Kohli Learned From His Mistakes to Emerge Strong Against England
Virat Kohli is taking his batting and the Indian game to different levels.
Sometimes it becomes difficult to write regularly about one person. What to write, how to describe his effort, or where to place him in context of Indian batting greats. Having used all the possible adjectives to define his maturity, written thousands of words about his pledge and devotion towards the game – still, how can you not write more about Virat Kohli?
He is taking Indian batting and his game to different levels, forcing you to travel with him.
It is unimaginable to enter to such a demanding tour, against one of the top bowling line-ups in the world in most trying circumstances, carrying terrible memories of the past (2014) with the huge burden of expectations, and come out with such incredible numbers. 440 runs in the three Test matches is already something that has reaffirmed his place as one of the greatest players right now.
Such is his impact on this series, that the outcome is directly related to the runs Virat will score in the next four innings.
This tour has been a sort of revelation for Kohli. A frontier he was supposed to conquer and prove to the world, his control and class. Every cricket pundit in the world was looking towards him. They have seen him demolish some of the best bowling attacks with precision and persistence to average about 50 runs in T20 format. He is already considered as one of the all-time greats in One Day Cricket. In Test cricket, he has been the hallmark of consistency and composure.
But then there was the horror tale of India’s England tour of 2014. Virat went in as one of the most dependable batsmen and returned with the awful figures of 134 runs in ten innings of five Test matches. One of the leading batsmen in the world came back with the batting average of tail-enders. It was a big question mark over his all-round ability and left him with a lot to prove to get his place among the greatest of the game. To complete his career “Grandslam”, he had to conquer the grey weather and green wickets of England.
Else, he would have been like the great tennis player Ivan Lendl with no Wimbledon trophy.
The preparation of 2018 started right after 2014. According to Virat, the failures of 2014 were the biggest blessing in disguise for him. He had a harsh look at his game and what he wants to do with it. He made some technical changes and more importantly, some mental adjustments. From the smallest thing like what to eat, how to train, to the step of taking counselling from none other than the Master, Sachin Tendulkar.
While working with the Indian team I was witness to one of the greatest discoveries of Virat’s game. Former England captain and legendary commentator, Nasser Hussain working for the Sky sports probed Virat the batsman and the man. You must see this interview to understand the effort Virat has put in to make it happen.
For more news and updates from India's tour of England, click here.
So what we saw after that was a spree of performances in every part of the world; he demolished Australia in Australia, conquered the venomous bounce of South Africa and now what we see in England is batting of another level.
He may be an enthusiastic kid while fielding and leading his side, but he’s a monk while batting. To an extent where England team management has started feeling that they are wasting third slip and fourth slip with Virat. He is just not going there.
He is waiting for the ball to come to him. That speaks a lot about the man who has grown up playing those thundering cover drives. To conquer the conditions, he had to govern his game and mind.
Also, while doing all this, Virat unfettered his mind from the results and outcome of his effort. Win or lose, hundred or zero. Virat concentrated more on the journey than the results. His spirits were never dampened by the results.
Watch him on the field while fielding and you cannot predict the kind of match he had with the bat.
I still remember meeting him after an outstanding match-winning knock against Australia in the world T20 in Mohali 2015.
While the entire world was going gaga over his effort and brilliance, Virat literary locked himself in the room to stay calm and focused on the job. He did not allow any outside influence or praise to pierce his mental space.
Moreover, that is the approach he takes while handling his failures as well. He has achieved this fantastic ability to detach himself from his performances and emotions that come with it. A rare distinction which not many greats could achieve.
This tour has confirmed one thing – Virat as a batsman is in the league of Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and Viv Richards, and what’s best is that he is still a work in progress.
(Nishant Arora is an award-winning cricket journalist, and former media manager of the Indian Cricket Team. Views expressed in this article are that of the writer’s own. The Quint does not endorse nor is responsible for them.)
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