Virat Kohli and Steve Smith, two of the finest batsmen of this generation, sat down for a chat ahead of the first Test between India and Australia, starting in Adelaide on Thursday.
The two batting stars asked each other a number of questions about their careers and opened up on how they have overcome challenges at the highest level.
Smith asked Kohli about the India-Australia match at the 2019 ODI World Cup, during which Kohli asked a section of the Indian fans in the stadium to cheer for Smith and not boo him.
“I remember I sent you a message that night saying that was top class,” said Smith.
“There was an incident that had happened (the ball-tampering episode in 2018 involving Smith and David Warner) and you guys realised it and came back after a long time having gone through everything you had to,” said Kohli.
“I feel that nothing in life can be that permanent and it’s not fair to target an individual personally. As much as you play against one another, there is a human side to things as well. Yes, you’re competitive on the field but you don’t want to get nasty as such. In the long term you realise things from a larger perspective.”
Talking about the time in his life when he decided to take his game much more seriously, Kohli said it was the death of his father when he was 18 years old that he decided to buckle down.
“It was tough but it somehow put things into perspective,” Kohli said. “I just became single-minded from then on, focused to play for a long time, I didn’t think I was going to get dropped from the team. It was pure motivation and the will to move forward.”
Smith started his career as a leg-spinner, with many even considering him to be the successor of the great Shane Warne, but he realised quite quickly that focusing on batting could help him prolong his international career.
“It was 2012 when I got dropped,” Smith said. “I played two Tests as a spinner, three as an all-rounder, I was batting at six and I got dropped so I thought ‘What was the best way to get back into Australian side and have a successful career?’
“So I thought ‘Right, it’s time to let go of spin’. I had so many people saying ‘Don’t do it, you need to keep focusing on different parts of your game’. I was like, ‘This is my decision and I want to be the best batsman I can be.’”
What is Kohli’s favourites innings? How did Smith develop his unorthodox batting technique? Who does Kohli think will shine with the bat in this Test series? Watch the conversation between Kohli and Smith here:
Longer version here:
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