Virat Kohli has established himself as one of the greatest batsmen of his generation but it’s been a journey of overcoming self-doubt and constant reinvention to reach this pedestal.
Now a scorer of over 19000 international runs, Kohli felt his career was in a downward spiral after the tour of England in 2014. He had scored just 134 runs in five Test matches at an average of 13.5.
Looking back at the tour, Kohli feels it was an important milestone in his career.
“A lot of people take good tours as milestones. But that tour of 2014 is always going to be ‘The milestone’ in my career as I thought things might become very bad in my career,” Kohli told BCCI.tv.
“That tour really made me sit down and think about how I need to approach my international career and do I want to be just a pushover every time I play Test cricket. I wanted to be more fearless. That’s a decision that I had to make,” he added.
Kohli went back to the drawing board and sought help from different quarters. Sachin Tendulkar, Ravi Shastri, and former Indian team coach Duncan Fletcher all made important contributions.
“My hip position obviously was an issue in that England tour because it was about not adjusting to the conditions and doing what I wanted to do and then being rigid about it. Being rigid about anything doesn’t get you anywhere. It was a long and painful realisation,” Kohli said.
“I came back and I spoke to Sachin paji as well in Mumbai. I did a few sessions with him. I told him I’m working on my hip position but he made me realise the importance of a big stride, the forward press against fast bowlers as well,” he added.
“The moment I started doing that with my hip alignment, things started panning out pretty nicely for me and then I became more and more confident with following that pattern. Eventually that Australia tour happened,” he continued.
Shastri on the other hand asked Kohli to bat slightly outside the crease.
“His understanding was very sharp. He told me something that I started practicing afterwards which is standing outside the crease,” Kohli said.
“He explained the mindset behind it. You should be in control of the space you are playing in and not give the bowler so many opportunities to get you out. So many dismissals get taken out when you are standing outside the crease. You can really understand the position that you are in and you are more in control,” he added.
Kohli worked hard on his technique and had a successful tour of Australia scoring 692 runs in 8 innings on that tour in 2014-15. He hasn’t looked back since.
He returned to England in 2018m this time as captain of the Indian cricket team, but exorcising the horrors of 2014 wasn’t exactly on his mind.
“I was nervous before the first game as I wanted to start well. That was the nervousness, not that 2014 had happened and 2018 was my chance for redemption. It wasn’t my mindset at all,” he said.
India lost the series 3-1 but Kohli scored 593 runs in the series.
“It was overall a confidence-boosting series for the team and we went on to win in Australia after that. From that series, we learnt quite a bit. We didn’t lose hope. So from that perspective, it was a more balanced series if I can put it that way,” Kohli said.
Watch Kohli’s full interview on BCCI.tv here: