Virat Kohli on Saturday said his elevation to captaincy has a lot to do with keenly observing Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s cricket acumen for many years in an interview with India off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on his Instagram Live chat series Reminiscence with Ash.
Kohli said he was always keen on taking responsibility and becoming the India captain was a part of that process as he picked Dhoni’s brains on tactical moves.
The 31-year-old also spoke about his transition as captain from leading the U-19 side to the senior team, and his highest One-Day International score of 183 that he scored against Pakistan in Dhaka during the 2012 Asia Cup.
Excerpts from the chat:
On transition as captain from leading India U-19 team to senior team:
I was someone who loved taking responsibility. I became captain of the U-19 team in one tour before the World Cup that we won, I wasn’t captain before that. I captained my club team, state team and then Ranji trophy after that with the seniors around. I think some things are destined to be. I remember many talented players who did not make the cut. That’s an unfortunate part of our sport. I looked at it this way, if I’m getting the opportunity, I need to work hard as I can because not everyone gets this chance.
Becoming captain of India was not even in my wildest dreams, to be honest. We all started playing at a similar time, I made my Test debut before you [Ashwin] and you made it just after in the next series.
And after that it was all about wanting to play, wanting to be in the eleven regularly, wanting to put my foot down and say I didn’t play all the games but I wanted to be discussed, whether this guy is good enough to play or not.
I think that is the transition that slowly happens, then with your entry in the game you start talking to the captain regularly.
On Dhoni’s role in his elevation to captaincy:
I was always in MS’s [Dhoni] ears, standing next to him, ‘yeh kar sakte ho, woh kar sakte ho’ (can we try these things), what do you think? He would deny a lot of things but he would discuss a lot of things as well, so he got a lot of confidence that I can do this [captaincy] after him.
I think a large portion of me becoming captain was also to do with him [Dhoni] observing me for a long period of time. It just can’t happen like he goes and selectors say ‘you become captain’.
The guy who is there, he takes responsibility and says okay, ‘I think this is the next guy and I will tell you how he is going’ and then slowly that transition is formed.
He played a big role in that and that trust you have to build over, say six-seven years, it just doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process.
On his highest ODI score of 183 against Pakistan:
The Pakistan bowling attack was quite potent. They were challenging attack to face because of the variation they had. There was Shahid Afridi, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal, Aziz Cheema, Wahab Riaz, [Mohammad] Hafeez was there as well.
It was quite a strong attack and in Bangladesh, the pitches are dry early on and then the dew settles in as the sun sets. So for the first 20 overs, it was in their favour as far as conditions are concerned. But I was happy batting next to paaji [Sachin Tendulkar]. That was his last ODI game as it turned out to be and it was a memorable anecdote for me.
The only intent is to make the team win and in that process you start realising about your own game, that against any bowling attack and any team, I can go the distance and make my team win. That realisation happened while playing those games. That game turned out to be a game-changer for me.
..I fondly remember that game and Saeed Ajmal was at his peak. I clearly remember before we played a T20 World Cup in Sri Lanka. It was a warm-up game and I got a 75 against them. In that main game, I scored 60 or 70 and we won that game. But in the warm-up game, I had told myself that I will play him as a leg spinner. Because his doosra was quite difficult to face and his off-spinner was not that lethal. So I decided to hit him over covers consistently and it just paid off.
As soon I negated his doosra then the potency of his threat became lesser and less. Even in that game I scored most of my runs against him through the off-side and kept doing that, playing against the turn. My only aim was to make him unsettled with his doosra and only then I am at the top of my game.
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