Kohli not setting out to ‘prove himself’ in England

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli


134 runs, 10 Test innings, average 13.40.

Tell those numbers to a genuine cricket fan and they will let you know they are from Virat Kohli’s only Test series in England, in 2014.

To be known as one of the best in Test cricket, it is important that a batsman succeeds in England. That is the general view held by the privileged lot that have succeeded at the highest level. It is fair to say that Kohli is yet to prove himself as a Test batsman in England.

But Kohli does not think so. Back in England four years after that 2014 tour, Kohli is now India’s Test captain. He is No. 2 on the ICC Test rankings. And he remains unfussed about what happened four years ago. On the eve of the first Test, he was asked whether he found it amusing or irritating when people felt he still had a point to prove in England as a batsman, and Kohli said he felt neither. “I don’t know. Back in the day when I did not know better these things used to bother me because I used to read a lot.”

According to Kohli, he has long since stopped getting swayed by outside emotions, and he does not consume anything written or said in the media. Doing that, Kohli said, allowed him to have a clear mind and helped retain his focus on his batting. “If I waste my energy on all these things I am compromising on my mindset already because when I walk out to bat I have the bat in hand, not people on the outside who write and predict things. I need to be in the most convincing and the most clear mental space I can be. That happens when I am just focused on what I need to do.”

Soon, Kohli will finish a decade in international cricket, which wasn’t something he had envisioned when he started out. “I did not think 10 years ago, very soon I am going to complete 10 years, sitting here in my career. So I have no complaints whatsoever. And I am not in a frame of mind to prove myself in any country. I just want to perform for the team. Obviously, I want to score runs for the team. And I am going to take Indian cricket forward.”

This will be the third five-Test series Kohli and India have played since 2014. All three have been against England. In 2014, England won 3-1. India then routed England 4-0 in the 2016-17 home series. So are India, the No.1 Test team, the favourites or the underdogs this time? Kohli refused to get distracted by any such billing. “It doesn’t matter. Whether you are a favourite or an underdog you still have to go out there and do well. If you are underdog, it is not a given the pressure will only be on the opposition. Or if you are favourites, it is not certain that the underdog will come out and just be fearless the whole time. I think it is the balance that is required.
“Whether you want to act as an underdog or favourite it is in your own head. You need professionalism more than feeling like an underdog or starting as a favourite. That is something we want to do as a team: we want to be consistent and professional.” (ESPNCricinfo)


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