Hamilton: What makes Virat Kohli different from the other Indian batsmen in the current team? The question keeps popping up whenever India tours abroad where Kohli seems to be the lone warrior in the eleven.
After scoring his 12th hundred in a chase, second only to Sachin Tendulkar’s 17, Kohli answered this himself.
“I didn’t try and do anything different,” he said about his Napier knock of 123. “What I learnt in South Africa was that whatever you are doing, you need to commit to it fully because people are bowling at you at 140-145 kmph and there is not much time to decide."
“You have got to read the length and commit yourself to the shot. If you want to leave the ball, you have to commit to that,” he said.
While his fellow batsmen were still pondering over what to do, Kohli was miles ahead.
“I felt really good with the way I batted in the last match. The good thing was that we got time to prepare, so mentally I was in the right space. That phase where we practiced for five days really helped me to set up my plans and play according to the conditions and the sort of bowling that we will be facing throughout the series. It was a great feeling that I was able to execute what I had visualised,” Kohli said.
He is confident that his team-mates will come to the party in the remaining matches.
“It would have been great had we won in Napier. But it was a positive start for us. I am sure everyone will bat more responsibly ahead in the series.” Had India won on Sunday, it would have been his sixth ton in a successful 300-plus chase.
“While chasing, you know how many runs you need to get and that is something I have always taken as a positive because that way I can analyse situations and figure out at what stage of the innings I need to score how many runs and what I need to do to put the team in a strong position,” Kohli says.
Most of the Indian batsmen fell trying to pull or hook in Napier.
“It’s the choice of any team, what sort of plan they want to come up with against us. A lot of teams have tried to bounce us out. Mostly the bouncer is a plan to set you up for the next ball to nick you off. It is never to scare you, it is just to put in the batsman’s head that there might be a short ball coming, another one, because you have two in the over now."
“Your fitness counts as well. If you are not fit enough, you may not have the reflexes to tackle a ball coming at 150 kmph,” the batsman said.
Experience has also made the 25-year-old Delhi boy more mature. Throwing his arms in the air and a few triumphant fist pumps have replaced the customary swears after reaching every milestone.
“I am not 21 anymore. I am not that immature that I don’t know where to control my aggression. Obviously if I wasn’t able to control my aggresson, I would be nowhere. My career would have been over before it started."
“I made a few mistakes early on and there have been times when I have gone over the top and done things that one shouldn’t, but that is how one learns,” Kohli says.
“Last game, the bowler gave me a stare and I gave him a stare back, I didn’t say anything. I have realised it is important to make your presence felt but it doesn’t always have to be with words. It can be with your bat. The opposition will try to rattle me and get me into a fight but that gives me one more reason not to get out. I like a battle but have realised words are not necessary.”