Australia are yet to arrive in India for their upcoming high profile four-match Test series, but they have already confessed they don’t have any plans to contain Virat Kohli. It is the feeling that West Indies went through in Antigua, New Zealand in Indore, England in Mumbai and Bangladesh in Hyderabad. In four consecutive Test series, the Indian captain has got four double hundreds. He has eclipsed Sir Don Bradman and former India Captain and current India A and U-19 coach Rahul Dravid, who scored double tons in three consecutive Test series.
In the lead up to the Test against Bangladesh, Virat did not immerse himself in the nets. Change in formats do not matter to him. He even opened in the recently concluded T20Is against England, but when he is back in the whites, his aggressive intent takes a different form. En route to his double hundred, he had three partnerships and he was the dominant force in all three. At the same time, also collected 108 running runs. He got his first fifty in 70 balls, the second in 60 and his third fifty in only 40 balls to reach the 150-run mark. There was no big hit, no six. In fact, in this home season in Tests, he has hit just a solitary six.
When width was provided or a short ball bowled, he made full use, yet 67 per cent of his runs were in front of the wicket. Of the 127 runs he scored against the spinners, the shot that got him his double was his first lofted one. It is a model based on traditional scoring methods, insane fitness levels, mental superiority, the desire to outperform himself and an insatiable hunger for excellence.
After his record-breaking double ton, the Indian captain spoke to BCCI.TV and explained how the added responsibility brings out the best in him.
It started off from Antigua and you now have a double hundred in every series. You’ve even surpassed Sir Don Bradman and Rahul Dravid.
I think it is because of captaincy that you tend to go on more than you would as a batsman. I think there is no room for complacency when you become the captain. I have always wanted to play long innings. My first seven-eight (seven) hundreds were not even 120 plus scores and after that I made a conscious effort to bat long. (I) Controlled my excitement and worked on not getting complacent at any stage. I have worked on those things and have worked on my fitness over the years. I feel like I can go on for longer periods. I don’t get tired as much as I used to before. I definitely don’t get satisfied when I get a Test hundred which was the case before because I used to give too much importance to Test cricket separately. Now, I have just started to treat it as any (other) game of cricket and I have to keep going on till the time my team needs me to.
You opened the batting recently in T20Is. Despite the change in format from white ball to red ball, you are able to bat the way just like the way you want to. How do you manage to do that?
It is not an easy thing to do with the amount of cricket we play nowadays. It is more of a mental thing. I don’t necessarily focus too much on practice. Sometimes, you don’t get to practice too much, but mentally you need to focus and think about what you are going to do in the game. Switching to different formats is the need of the hour and I want to contribute in all three formats. It has always been my mindset. I have to prepare a certain way. It is more mental than getting into the nets. I think about the game a lot.
It surely must not be as easy to bat for so long and get a big score as you made it look like here in Hyderabad?
The wicket was really good to bat on to be honest. It wasn’t as testing as other wickets that I scored centuries on. To get a double hundred you need to bat for a long period and you need to do things right to get to that score. The focus was only to follow my intent and at the same time, be careful about choosing my shots. Luckily, I struck the right balance in this particular innings and it feels good to have got a big score.
You were spot on with your first review. What made you not opt for the second one?
If the ball has spun from right under my eyes when I am batting on 180, it has to spin a lot for me to miss it as I had been connecting all. It wasn’t a lapse in concentration. The ball really spun sharply from the front of my pad. We had two reviews left. If I got out, I would’ve been the fifth batsman to get out and others could still use the one review left.
For the other, I thought I was plumb in front. I was falling back when I got hit on the pad as well and that’s why the umpire could not give not out either. I wasn’t standing there, I was falling behind. If you look at the real-time replay it looks plumb. The umpires don’t have a replay and so do the players. I didn’t want to use a review that I felt like I was plumb in front because a Saha, Jadeja or Ashwin could be nearing a milestone and they could use it for themselves as well. The second one to me felt like I was plumb and that’s why I started walking briskly as well. No grudges with the umpire either as it happened way too quickly for them to understand where it actually impacted the pads.