It’s a good beginning: Kohli
Hambantota, July 21: Virat Kohli completed a hat-trick of centuries against Sri Lanka as India began the five-ODI series with a convincing win. Vice-captain Kohli, who propelled India to a 300-plus score, is currently the third highest run-getter in ODIs in 2012.
The well-crafted century underlines the evolution of Kohli, who has been a key performer for the team in recent times. Speaking to the media, the Man-of-the-Match discussed his batting and role in the team.
On his assessment of his performance and contribution to the team
I have been very fortunate to do well for the team on a consistent basis. If I can perform consistently, it will be really good for me. It was a just a matter of going in there and applying yourself and trying to get the best result possible and prepare well for the match. Fortunately, I was able to do that and I got the results I wanted so I am pretty pleased with that.
On the winning start to the series
When you come back to cricket after a break, you are always trying to ensure that you start off well. We won a good match today. A winning start gives you a lot of confidence for the series as well as the season ahead. Personally and from the team’s point of view as well, it has been a good beginning.
On whether he feels that India need to work on their fielding, especially under lights
One thing that we observed was that the ball was travelling quicker at night than during the day because of the wind. There was a lot of breeze in the day and there was pretty much no breeze at all at night and that surely made a difference. The ball was running off the bat and it is important to assess what we did today in the field. I think we made a few mistakes understandably because we haven’t played on this ground before; to get the pace of the ground you probably need a game. Hopefully we can correct those mistakes and get the pace of the field and put in a good fielding effort in the next game.
On whether bowling in the death overs was an area that needed to be worked on
Yes, especially in the sub-continent. We are playing a lot of cricket in the sub-continent in the coming season and it is very important to hit the right areas in the death [overs] because that’s where the game can turn around. Even eight or nine runs an over can be chased in the last 10 overs. We have seen that done before and hopefully we can practice that more in the nets and execute our plans perfectly in the games ahead.
On Mahinda Rajapakse International Cricket Stadium
The atmosphere was brilliant – it was pretty similar to Dambulla. Similarly big ground, stands, wicket and conditions. I think that the environment and the conditions were brilliant. It is just that the breeze plays a huge role in the daytime and it is very different at night. That is the only difference that I saw from the other grounds and conditions. It is a brilliant cricketing stadium.
On the partnership with Virender Sehwag
This is something that I have tried to learn over a period of time; you need to see how the situation is going, how the other partner is batting. When I went in, Gauti bhai [Gautam Gambhir] had just got out and I decided to be a bit more positive because [as per] my stats in the previous matches in Sri Lanka, I had played too many dot balls. I had a positive mindset today [that made me] just go out there and hit the boundary balls and make sure I execute them well and get the best results. Initially I struck a few fours and after that, [as] my role in the team has been of a sheet anchor, I sort of took over my role when Viru bhai started hitting the ball beautifully. When he plays like that, you don’t really need to do much. My job was to just rotate the strike and take the singles and doubles and hit the odd boundary in between. When he got out I took over, I became more aggressive. It is all about adapting to different situations and seeing how the other guy is playing. If your partner is scoring well and being aggressive then you can get into your role and try and play till the 40th over so that the team can benefit from it.
On the match looking like it could go either way towards the end and whether that was an area that needed to be worked on
Our bowlers gave us a good start with the new ball. The ball was swinging a bit. They bowled in good areas. When we batted, we had also scored a lot of runs in the last 10 overs. The wicket was good to bat on so I would like to credit our bowlers because the way they bowled in the first phase built pressure on the opposition and they lost nine wickets. They are world-class players so you can’t expect to win by 80-90 runs. We had to work hard in the end and put in an effort in the field. The bowlers also had to put a lot of thought into their bowling. A phase of seven or eight overs comes in between when you concede more runs but it is important that you don’t panic, remain calm. Irfan [Pathan], Umesh [Yadav] and Zaheer bhai [Khan] bowled three or four good overs at a crucial time due to which the match turned in our favour again.
On scoring centuries against Sri Lanka
I have played so much against them, I can’t help it if I end up scoring runs against them. But they are a quality side; they have beaten quality sides in the world convincingly time and again. We know they are world-class bowlers and batsmen as well so it is always a nice feeling doing well against good teams.
On being motivated and performing consistently
I get really motivated when I play for India. I put on an India jersey and it’s [a matter of] pride for me; it is a responsibility, it is an honour. I try to prepare the best I can before every match. I train as hard as I can before any game I play for India. I do that day in and day out. Eventually you will have times in between when you won’t score but more often than not, if you keep working hard on your game, you will get the right results.
On a batsman succeeding against a team consistently
The situations [in which you score] can be very different – you can take that as a positive. But coming into this innings I didn’t have the best of IPL seasons and I just wanted to forget it. I am lucky I got a break in between and at times you regroup and come back and just mentally become more relaxed and calm. If you have done well against an opposition, you can take that as a confidence booster but at the same time you have to work hard and prepare your game before the match. Coming into this game, I think it was really important how my mindset was going to be this season. This season is really important for the team so I really made a conscious effort to stay as relaxed and as calm as I could before the match and it really paid off. I was able to stay in that zone, stay in that calm place, and when I went out there, I was pretty relaxed compared to the previous games I have played in the IPL.
On getting higher on the ICC rankings with good performances
I don’t play for the ratings; ratings come as reward for your performances. My aim is to perform for the team. Whenever I play, I try and do the best I can for the team and make the team win, more importantly. You never feel nice after scoring a hundred if the team loses. If you score and the team wins, that is the best satisfaction that a player can get. Hopefully I can continue the form that I am in. I am feeling much more relaxed and calm after this match so hopefully I can stay in that space this season. It will be a long and hard season and we have some tough teams to play in the future as well. Hopefully I can stay in the same space.
On the team composition and whether they had options given how unpredictable the conditions can be
In batting conditions you’ve got to bank on your six batsmen. You’ve got to show faith in them and expect them to perform for you. You can’t just be on the safer side playing seven batsmen and compromise on a bowler. I think as a captain you need an extra bowling option knowing the wicket is going to be good in the second innings. The balance we had today was perfect. Having a bowler always gives that cushion to the captain if the situation doesn’t go well. I think you’ve got to bank on your first six and expect them to perform for you.