My aim is to raise my game: Kohli
Colombo, July 31: Prodigious batsman Virat Kohli won the ODI series for India with yet another match-winning knock and with one match still left in the series. The India vice-captain remained unbeaten on 128 as he took the visitors to a six-wicket win against Sri Lanka. The prolific run-scorer has evolved over the last few series and emerged as India’s key player. The youngster, who loves chasing totals, discussed the journey so far while speaking to the media.
Excerpts from the post-match press conference:
On starting the season with a series win and on scoring centuries against Sri Lanka
It’s a five-match series so the effort is always to score as many runs as possible for the team. In the previous match I was disappointed with my performance as I got out after scoring 38 runs. I gave a good platform [to the team], had a 105-run partnership. But with still about 150-odd runs to be scored, I threw my wicket [and] was very disappointed especially since I hadn’t done such a thing in quite some time. I thought about it in the nets. I gave a thought to what could have been the reason [for that] and worked on it and today I could execute [my plan] well in the match.
On the key to his form and making the best use of it
Players always say that you want to make the most out of good form but I don’t really think about all that. That’s also adding pressure on yourself. You [would] rather enjoy the game. You know you are batting well so if you concentrate on what you have to do, you will end up making use of that good form. My only aim is to keep working hard on my batting and keep enjoying the batting and keep looking at the situation [in the match] and make the situation stronger for the team to be able to win the match.
On the key to chasing without a panic
When you walk down [to bat] and play about eight dot balls, it is very easy to step out and go for that big one. But when you get out you realise that you have lost one more wicket and the new guy going in might play 10-15 dot balls more. So you have that advantage over that guy coming in to bat [after you] because you are set. You can actually start rotating the strike and hit the odd balls in between for boundaries. It is all about analysing what is going on in the middle. Today was not one of those quick wickets. Wickets in Sri Lanka are pretty slow so it was all about assessing that. We have players like Viru bhai [Virender Sehwag], Suresh [Raina] and MS [Dhoni] coming in in the middle order who can smash the ball at will. My job was to capitalise [on the situation] and make sure that we don’t lose any more wickets. That is what Suresh and I discussed in the middle. [While] defending 250 runs, you need to take wickets at regular intervals. Our main plan was to stop [wickets from falling] and to try and create some sort of partnership. We knew we had one batting Powerplay and we [had to] cash that in the end. So it was about analysing the situation and playing your roles perfectly.
On the confusion while running between the wickets
Yes, there was a bit of confusion. They have some really good fielders inside [the circle] and an error of judgment [did occur]. You don’t run singles off good fielders. It can happen every now and then but after that [we] pretty much sorted it out. [We figured out] who has a good arm, who is quick across the outfield and in the circle as well. It is all about analysing that. [We] made a few mistakes but corrected them quickly.
On whether the next aim was to go up the team ODI rankings
We don’t really have to think about it. Our aim is to be consistent, as consistent as we can. If we can win three [matches] in a row it will be wonderful for us. We have played some really good cricket in these last two games and in the first game as well. It is all about sticking to the basics and doing [the right] things over and over again, as we did in these last two games and the first one. It is not about thinking about the ranking. Going out there you put pressure on yourself [to do well]. It is all about working hard in the practice sessions and going out there and expressing yourself.
On what lies ahead of him
I personally think when you start scoring runs for your team and country, you need to take your game up that one level. You just can’t be getting out after scoring centuries [at] 105-106; that doesn’t help the team scores. I have realised that over a period of time if I get set I make a mindset of getting a hundred and getting a big one so the guys coming in [after me] don’t have to face a situation which might let the opposition come on top. My aim has been to take my game one level up and God’s been kind – I have been able to do that in the last few games. My main aim, when I get set, when I get 70-80 [runs], is to get a big hundred and let the team win and not to leave the situation in the middle.
On enjoying the added responsibility of vice-captaincy
Obviously. I have said this before, if people think you have those qualities [that are required] for handling responsibility [then you are given the job]. I have been given a post [and] I was happily surprised with it [when it was given to me]. I feel much more responsible [because of it] when I play in the middle. Not that my behavior or my attitude towards the teammates has changed; it is all about thinking about yourself in a more responsible way. That’s how you become more mature. If you are given challenges you have got to live up to them and that makes you mature as a player and a person.
On playing the extra batsman today
It is a slow wicket so even if the part-timers land the ball in the right areas, they can do the job if you want to play seven batsmen. It was good for Manoj [Tiwary] as well because he hadn’t got a game for a while and he got to play again. He bowled well for us. It’s all about giving the challenge to the guy who has been sitting on the bench and seeing how he reacts to it. I think he did a brilliant job for us with the ball. He couldn’t capitalise with the bat [although] he got a good start. But as I said, the part-timers can be effective if bowled at the right time and if they bowl in the right areas. So it was worth taking a chance and it paid off for us today.
On celebrating his century in a less aggressive manner
I had said in an earlier interview, I don’t want to reduce my aggression but the line has been crossed three or four times and I would like to improve on that. It remains at the back of your mind because it doesn’t look good on the TV. My aggression will never go down because that is my plus point but [my] on-field behaviour and crossing the line doesn’t look good on TV and as a professional cricketer, I think one should be able to behave on the field. I am learning with time and improving too so I just hope that I don’t cross the line again and I can keep doing well for the team.