India skipper Virat Kohli says the responsibility of leading the team motivates him to push his limits in testing conditions which eventually helped score big Test hundreds.
No Indian batsman has more double hundreds in Test cricket than Kohli, who smashed a handful of records with his career-best unbeaten knock of 254 on the day two of the second Test against South Africa.
He surpassed batting legends Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag by amassing a record seventh double hundred, the highest in Indian cricket history. The 30-year-old, who now has 26 Test hundreds and 43 in ODIs, also went past Sir Don Bradman’s Test tally of 6,996 runs.
“Feels great. It’s a nice little thing to get along in your career, to get most number of double hundreds,” Kohli told BCCI.TV.
“I struggled to get big scores initially but then as soon as I became captain then you invariably just think about the team all the time, you can’t just think about your game. In that process you end up batting more than you can imagine. That’s been the mindset for a long time now.”
Talking about his unbeaten 254, the skipper said thinking about the team helped him play his marathon innings in hot and humid conditions.
“It’s difficult but if you keep thinking [about the] team then you push yourselves in situations you can’t otherwise. That’s the key in hot and humid, testing conditions you think about the team and you end up batting 3-4 hours more.
“That was the only challenging thing and then [Ravindra] Jadeja came to bat and you have to run fast with Jaddu. It was physically and mentally challenging and but that’s what you prepare for as an international player.”
Talking about his double centuries, Kohli said he would rank the 200 against West Indies in North Sound, Antigua and the 235 against England in Mumbai as his top two knocks.
“The top two will be Antigua and Mumbai, the one against England. All double hundreds are special but those two are more special because one was away from home and one against England in challenging conditions, it was very hot and humid there.”
India declared their first innings at 601/5 and then went on to reduce South Africa to 36/3. Kohli said that he was delighted by day two’s result as everything went as per plan for India.
“The plan was simple, to get to 600 as soon as possible and make them bat tonight. Jaddu batted brilliantly, at a great tempo so that allowed me to take risks and hit the gap. That partnership was great for us we also bowled and ended up taking three wickets.
“That was the plan, we wanted to attack and be positive not just play out sessions and days. Whatever happened in the end that was the plan,” Kohli said.
Former India cricketer VVS Laxman was lavish in his praise for Kohli. “For a player like Virat Kohli, batting at this level, is like batting against your thought process and not against the bowlers. I’m really impressed with his precise footwork and his effective shots,” Laxman told official broadcaster Star Sports.
“It’s amazing on how he balances his stance, how he goes forward and plays the ball through the offside and uses his pace for the midwicket. He has the gift of noticing these gaps and puts pressure on the captain and bowler. He definitely had a different level of concentration today.”
Former South Africa skipper Graeme Smith pointed out that Kohli used the old ball to his advantage. “Rabada was not able to make good use of the old ball and that got him more frustrated. Whereas, Virat was able to use it at his advantage and went on to score big runs. Somewhere, South Africa are not able to put things in the right place till now.”
Former India pacer Irfan Pathan commended Kohli for keeping the interest of the team ahead of his personal achievements.
“It is commendable that Virat took the decision of declaring the innings rather than looking out for his milestone of achieving a triple hundred. He kept the team ahead of himself and the three wickets India were able to take shows how he made the right decision,” Pathan said.
Vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane said Kohli’s on-field aggression helps him perform better.
“Virat is an extremely fit player, he is someone who gives immense importance to his fitness regime and that is reflected in in his performance. Be it T20s, Tests or ODIs, he is the fittest one across formats. Also, he gets a little aggressive on the field and I think, that in a way makes his performance better.