I value my wicket more: Kohli
Mirpur, Mar 19: Virat Kohli was the chief architect of another Indian victory as his 183 runs led his side to their highest successful run chase in ODIs. Stringing together critical partnerships with Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma, the vice-captain helped India win the crunch game against archrivals Pakistan at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in the ongoing Asia Cup.
Excerpts from his post-match press conference:
On the team’s gameplan while chasing 330 runs
We lost a wicket on the second ball and my plan was to just go in there and get a big partnership for the second wicket because chasing 330, if there are wickets in hand, then if you are one down till about 140, the opposition has something to think about. So that was our plan – to put pressure on them – [...] and I think we executed that perfectly. The plan was to build big partnerships. So once we did that we could go for the runs with seven or eight wickets in hand.
[...] When I was playing the plan was to take the game till the end and keep wickets in hand. We had discussed that we will keep wickets in hand, play their strike bowlers cautiously and not give them wickets [...]. That worked for us because on this ground, while chasing, the ball comes on to the bat well and it is difficult for the bowlers to bowl. So we had that at the back of our minds and we were able to execute the plan.
On whether games against Pakistan put the team under additional pressure
I would be wrong if I said that there was no pressure. It is always a big game, as everyone knows. I hadn’t done too well against Pakistan; I had played them thrice before. Even in the World Cup semi-final I got out early. Against them it is always a high-pressure game because everyone is watching. All eyes are on that game. It is really satisfying to chase down a big total [in a game like this].
On negotiating Saeed Ajmal’s bowling
I have seen him bowl on TV as well but I can tell you that it is not easy to pick him. You can watch as many videos as possible but still when you play him, it is not easy to pick him because he bowls quick and he gets turn both ways. So we had a plan out there, me and Rohit [Sharma], to play against him and that’s what worked for us. He is a world-class bowler. Probably one of the best spinners right now and it was a challenge to play against him.
On his batting
There is no recipe. I go out there and I give myself the best chance to perform and once I get in, I try to make sure that I am there till the end and the team is in a comfortable position to win the match; that’s my only aim when I am batting and that is sort of working for me. But there is no special recipe as such. Everyone wants to go out there and score runs. Today I was able to go that extra mile. I was not getting big hundreds and I would get out in the 40th or the 42nd over, so I decided to apply myself more today. This was a really important game for us.
On Sachin Tendulkar
As a kid I used to be eager to see him in person. I used to go to India matches and watch him from the stands and think that if I was just as close as possible to him, I would be on the top of the world; and now I am getting to play with him. It was a historic day [when he got his hundredth ton]. I was really proud to be part of it, I think everyone was, and now getting this century against Pakistan is really satisfying. I am happy for myself, and the team as well. I am especially happy for the team because we played some good cricket in the last game as well and the four or five overs that we didn’t play good cricket cost us the game. But we have been playing good cricket and it is good to get a result our way. [...]
On the collision on the field
Accidents on the field keep happening. [...] It doesn’t really affect me because these sorts of things happen and if you get injured, you get injured – you can’t do anything about that. You just forget that and move forward.
On planning his innings while batting at No. 3 and going on to win matches for India
The No. 3 spot is a very important position for the team. I value my wicket much more now because I know that if get in and set a good platform, I will be able to cover up later on and that has been my strength. I am sticking to it and that is working for me As I said, I try to take the game till the end as much as possible and if one guy is going really good at the other end, I play a different role. But if he gets out, I take over. It is [about the] understanding that you have out there in the middle and [you have to] [judge] the situation as well [...].
On batting with Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma
Batting with Sachin Tendulkar is an honour. You learn so much from him. If you can pick up the smallest thing, it can help you in a big way. [...] I have always mentioned that I am a big fan of Rohit Sharma’s batting. When he plays a long innings, he is a treat to watch even from the other end. I have had a few partnerships with him in India as well. It was an absolute pleasure to bat alongside him. He also understands the role and situation really well so today we were able to get a big partnership and we are really happy about it.
On missing out on a possible double century
I was just looking at the ball and hitting it and reacting. I never thought about the double hundred [...]. It crossed my mind once and I told myself, ‘No, no. I am thinking [about] something else so just keep batting [...].’
On batting at the Shere Bangla National Stadium
I love this ground. I have got four centuries here so I can’t say that I don’t. It is a good wicket to bat on. It is probably a bit slow [later] in the day so it gets more challenging to bat on [second]. When I came to Bangladesh for the first time, I scored a few runs chasing here so I really like batting on this ground.
On the perception that India lose matches when Sachin Tendulkar scores a century
First of all – out of his 100 centuries, 70-80 have won India matches but people see only the other 25 [odd centuries] that haven’t won us the game. [...]. It happens sometimes – the opposition has also come to play and win. It is an international match. It is not like if you have scored a century, your team will definitely win every time. [From what] I have seen, 75 percent of the time India have won the match when he has scored a century.
On his batting position in the Test side
[...] As a cricketer, you aim to improve everyday. You aim to be the best you can. You can’t just wake up one day and say, ‘I am ready to take a guy’s place who has scored so many runs.’ I will try my best to become a better cricketer every day and hopefully be a consistent performer in Test matches as well for India [...] I am not really thinking about what position I am going to take and where I am going to bat in Test matches. I am just happy to be performing right now and I will wait and watch how things shape up in the future. I am just looking to improve everyday.
On going after Tendulkar’s record of a hundred tons
I have got 11 and he has got hundred [hundreds] so how can you even say that? It’s like mission impossible. I am not going after it at all. I am just happy to be scoring hundreds and I will try and score as many as I can.