Believe. Sporting brands may use the word for their advertisement campaigns. But for Virat Kohli, it is a way of life.
Believe. That was the first word that Virat spoke when on his way back to the pavilion after getting out on the final day of the Adelaide Test, he stopped to talk to incoming batsman, Mohammad Shami.
It speaks volumes about Virat’s own belief that when India began to bat on the fifth morning of the Test, not even for a moment, did he see the task ahead as surviving for 98 overs. For him it was always about chasing down 364 to win. In the end, India were dismissed for 315 in 87.1 overs with Nathan Lyon making merry on a deteriorated pitch. But Virat didn’t regret any of his decisions. After all, he believed in them. “At no point did we not think about chasing the score down,” he said. “We have come here to play positive cricket and no sort of negativity is welcome into this group.
“I think this was one of our strongest overseas performances in the last two-three years and I am really proud of the way the boys played. They showed a lot of heart and character. Australia were far better than us in taking the chances and grabbing the opportunities and they deserved to win today,” Virat said.
To back his 115 up in the first innings, Virat played an incredibly skillful and fighting knock of 141 in the second. And he truly believed that he could take the team to a win. His mind was fixed only on the runs required.
“I always believed that I could do it along with the tail as well. I backed myself throughout and even in the first innings I did not regret the shot I played to get out. There were calculations but no major planning. I just kept telling myself to believe. The intent was to hit a boundary every ball. If I am looking to defend, I am giving the bowler an upperhand before I even play the ball.
“One good thing was that I wasn’t thinking of any milestones. I was only thinking about the target, was trying to calculate who I can go after and when to accelerate. The milestone was out of question and that’s the one thing I am pleased about – it’s the first time I have been able to do that in a Test match. It felt good. Had we pulled this off, it would have been one of the proudest moments of my life.”
Unfortunately, he couldn’t pull it off. In an attempt to smash one over midwicket, he holed out in the deep. “When I saw Mitchell Marsh sort of swinging at the boundary, I was hoping he would drop the catch. I could have placed it better but again, no regrets for playing that shot.
“It is not disappointing at all. I am only a bit hurt because of the fact that we could not cross the line when it looked pretty bright for us.
Virat tried to instill the same positive and aggressive mindset in his batting partners. “The chat I was having with the guys in the middle was, ‘Believe. Back yourself. If you feel like going for a stroke, go for it’. When Rohit was trying to hit a few sweeps and missing it, I kept backing him, saying, ‘Keep hitting them. If you connect three, we get three boundaries’.
“That’s the way we looked at the game and that’s why we were able to come so close. If at any stage we thought that we want to play for a draw, we would have lost by 150 runs to be honest.”
The game looked to be firmly in India’s grasp when Virat and Murali Vijay stitched a sensational 185-run partnership for the third wicket. Vijay got out on 99 but the one run he didn’t score doesn’t make his contribution any less praiseworthy in Virat’s eyes.
“I just told Vijay to bat the way he does and leave the calculation and the target at the other end. It was a commendable effort from him to hang in there as an opener on the fifth day when facing the new ball with an upright seam and then with the wicket turning square. It was a great innings from him and he can be really proud of what he has done,” said the captain.
For the sheer competitiveness between both teams that led to gripping five days of Test cricket, Virat rated the Adelaide Test as the best he has played in.
“Until today I thought the Test match we played against South Africa in Johannesburg last year was one of the best I’ve played. It swung both ways and ended in a draw.
“But I would prefer this one over that. Both teams played with the same kind of attitude. That’s why the crowd loved it and the players involved enjoyed it too. That’s what we play cricket for.
“There’s no point playing for five days and ending with a draw. It has to be exciting and result oriented. I enjoyed it a lot and will probably rank this as the best Test I have played so far.
Virat promised the same daredevil attitude from Team India for the remaining of the series.
“Many people thought that we would lose easily. But this team has come here and showed that experience doesn’t matter. If you believe in yourself, you can beat any team. We played the brand of cricket that we had decided we would play and I want the team to carry this on in the future.
“As far as the result is concerned, we played for a win and not a draw. We lost, no problem. We will have to maintain this approach if we want to win series overseas. If we go in to play for draws, things will start getting negative. I am sure with this approach our results will only get better and this series will be very exciting.”