India’s first Test against Sri Lanka at Mohali in the two-match series was a landmark Test for former captain Virat Kohli, who was making his 100th appearance as a player in the format, becoming only the 12th Indian player to achieve this feat.

After looking solid at the crease on day one, Kohli fell agonisingly short of a half-century in the match as he was dimissed for 45 to left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya. The 33-year-old addressed the virtual press conference after the conclusion of Day 1 of the Mohali Test with India reaching 357/6 at Stumps.

“I told Rahul bhai in the morning today that I am feeling like I’m making my debut all over again. To be honest, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was a special moment. I didn’t realise the magnitude of the occasion till the time things got closer to today and how the presentation happened, the ceremony happened and the people in the stadium today as well,” he said.

“So it was a special moment and I did feel nervous walking out before and walking as a specialist batter... I’ve said this before, my mindset was exactly the same even before becoming the captain. I always wanted to be a responsible player for the team and I always took responsibility even when I wasn’t captain so for me, nothing changed.”

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Answering a questioning about whether stepping down as captain and playing as a specialist batter has changed his approach, Kohli said, “My intent from the first day is to play to win the game for the team and play every match with complete commitment. My mindset is not going to change.

“For as long as my body and my fitness continues to support me, I will continue playing with the same intent and commitment.”

Kohli added: “It is important to have the joy for the game which you should feel always. And fortunately, I have always felt that way and feel that way even today. It has taken a lot of hard work and it will take a lot of hard work in the future, for which I am ready.”

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Along with wicket-keeper batter Rishabh Pant, Kohli was rested for the three-match T20I series that India won 3-0 before before the Test series. Speaking about bubble fatigue and spending time away from cricket, Kohli said, “A lot of things changed since Covid happened. We also have to understand that we play regularly in bubbles and as you said, we’re involved in cricket all the time and it’s very difficult to get away from it.”

“When you want to work on something in your game, then you have to consider going and coming back into a quarantine for five days or sitting in a hotel room all over again where all the progress you made means nothing. So, it’s not been the most easy environment to get away from the game and have time to work on things.”

“That has been the reality of the situation and that is the situation we play in so yeah, it has been challenging in terms of how you would follow your processes earlier. We are certainly not able to repeat that and certainly not able to follow those processes the same way as we did before.”

He added: “To be able to go away and work on things and have that time off and fine-tune a few things and just mentally switch off from a few things and come back fresh... that has been something all cricketers across the world have spoken about already. It does take a toll on you when you are constantly, day in and day out just thinking about the same thing.”

More to follow...