Learning to master the waiting game

In just a year, the number of balls he leaves outside off stump has gone up, commendable for a man so successful in T20 cricket.

By Khurram Habib, Hindustan Times

India's Virat Kohli celebrates scoring a century during the third day of their second test cricket match against …


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The typical aggression was missing as he punched the air. Virat Kohli's celebrations have been built on stuff that befits footballers or fast bowlers. His words usually ooze confidence. But things have changed, quickly, he says.

In just a year, the number of balls he leaves outside off stump has gone up, commendable for a man so successful in T20 cricket. And Saturday was proof of it as he batted with grit, sensibly, and in full control of his nerve. "Yes, I have (changed)," he said.

It has been a battle nonetheless to banish those instincts that led to his dismissal in Hyderabad.

Preparing well
"In the first Test, some shots off my bat went instinctively, but it wasn't my intention to play the ball. So I worked on that for this game. I thought they will bowl in the areas that I have got out before and try to get me hitting in the gaps. So, like I did in Australia, where I let the bowler come to me, I thought I'll leave the ball more and defend more."

The resolve to stay at the wicket came off well till a lapse cost him. "That was the only ball in my innings when I didn't look at the bowler's hand. He bowled cross seam. That was a lapse in concentration, and you just need one to get out in international cricket. It's a lesson for me and hopefully when I cross that 100-mark next time."

His coach Raj Kumar Sharma says: "He's been working on leaving the balls at the nets."

With success at No 3 in the ODIs, a chance to bat at No. 3 in Tests was beckoning. He admitted No. 5 is not an easy spot to bat as you are more prepared to bat at 3.

Different approach
"It's very different, at No 3, you're always ready to go in and be part of the action. With a new ball, the opposition might get an early wicket. Being in the middle order it's a bit different. You might be in at the 10th over or come in at 200 for 3. Being padded up, you need to concentrate for long hours even before going in to bat. I've been used to batting at 3 in ODIs. It (batting at 5) could be a tricky situation but I'll learn along the way how to manage my time off the field when there's a partnership going on."

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