virat kohli he had not scored a Test hundred since November 2019. That three-year drought ended in Ahmedabad this week, when he mentioned his twenty-eighth Test century in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy final match. After the game, in conversation with the India coach Raul Dravid On BCCI.tv, Kohli admitted that the hundred-year wait had tested her patience. Below is the edited transcript of her chat.
Raul Dravid: I’ve seen this young man (Kohli) score a lot of hundreds, I’ve seen him as a player when I played, I’ve seen a lot of his hundreds on TV, but I took over as manager about 15-16 months ago and I was a bit desperate for to see him score a Test hundred and really enjoy it from the comfort of the dressing room… And it was a beauty. You made me wait a long time, but it was an absolute privilege and a pleasure to see those entrances and the way you built them. So very well played.
Dravid: We were on the pitch for two days and the wicket got a bit more challenging as the day progressed. They tested your patience, challenged you skill wise and mentally too. What is the mindset? How did you go about doing that?
virat kohli: Thank you for your kind words, Raúl. bhai. As far as approaching this innings, I knew I was playing well even in test matches before I played this one (Ahmedabad). To be fair, he was a good badass to bat at, but having said that, the Aussies, whatever little help there was at the wicket, used it very well. The consistency of him bowling in the slightly rude that was created through Mitchell Starc bowling for Nathan Lyon and the other spinner (Todd Murphy) as well. They capitalized on it very well – being put on a 7-2 field most of the time meant I had to be patient. I had to trust my defense. And that’s the squad I’ve always played with in Test cricket: my defense is my strongest point. Because when I defend well, I know that when the ball is loose and it’s there to hit, I can cash in and get the runs I need. The boundaries weren’t easy to find, the outfield was slow, the ball was soft, and they were pretty consistent.
The only thing that really calmed me down was: I’m happy to run ones and twos and score a hundred. I can hit four sessions. I can hit five sessions here. I go into the field relaxed because I know I can hit in many ways. I’m not desperate if I play three sessions and I feel like I’m collapsing here and I need to do some fast runs, otherwise I won’t be able to stay there for long.
So for people who must have seen it, or we’ve also seen it many times in the past, the one thing that stood out was hitting fitness, which was being able to hit five sessions, six sessions. For that you need to prepare physically. I’m pretty happy to score 30 runs in a session and not hit a cap and not be desperate at all because I know the caps will come but even if I have to play like that I can hit six sessions and get 150. I have no problem making that. So the preparation paid off. It’s not something you can do for two months or three months. I’ve been doing it for seven or eight years non-stop every day of my life. So when I’m in these situations, that naturally comes to the surface and really helps me in difficult conditions.
Dravid: Sometimes, as a coach, there’s frustration (hearing a player say) – “oh, this is the only way I know how to play… You mentioned a line in there that says ‘I feel safe when I come in because I know I can hit in different ways. Maybe just elaborate on that a bit and talk to us about preparing to play in a turner. You have a hundred in Perth, you have a hundred in English conditions. Can you always play the same way all the time?
kohli: No, I don’t think you can play the same way every time. It must be adjusted according to the conditions in front of you. This is one of the main reasons why I have been able to play all formats of the game for so long. Adaptability comes from knowing that I can physically do things in many different ways. Mentally, I can prepare myself to play a certain way or another, but if my body can’t take it, I’ll be found out. An example would be, even in this test match, I would back myself to run six doubles over a span of six, seven if needed to increase the scoring rate; It’s not necessarily that I’m looking to clear the deep midwicket, and that’s my only option because that also carries risk.
That’s why I’ve been able to hit in different situations and hit differently in different conditions because I was able to take one and two and I was able to hit with power as well. For that you need to be in complete physical condition, and that is something you have to work on every day. You might have a great phase where you feel good, but then if the conditions are challenging and the run scoring isn’t ideal, I wouldn’t want to play a bad shot and go out when the team needs me. So I always thought, how can I best prepare? How can I find more ways to help my team win the game, but in the way the situation demands of me, not the way I prefer to do it this way?
Dravid: That is exactly, for me, the essence of what a team player is: playing according to the situation of the team and developing the skills, knowing that the team will put themselves in different situations and challenging yourself. I mean, we’re talking to someone who is a top six hitter, he could have stepped up and hit a six anytime he wanted, but he realized what the team needed and played accordingly. That’s really to me is a sign of an outright champion cricketer.
You are someone who takes great pride in your performances, who has been in the habit of scoring hundreds with such regularity. I know a lot of this period has been Covid, there haven’t been many test matches, but has it been difficult? Has it been hard not to do a hundred…?
kohli: I have let complications grow a bit on me due to my own shortcomings. The desperation to get to that three-figure mark is something that can grow on you as a hitter and we’ve all experienced that at one time or another. I let that happen to me to a degree, but the other side of the coin is that I’m not a guy who’s happy at 40 or 45. I’ve always been someone who takes a lot of pride in performing for the team. Not that Virat Kohli should stand out. When I’m hitting 40, I know I can get 150 here and that will help my team. That was really consuming me: why can’t I get that big score for the team? Because I always took pride in the fact that when the team needed me, I would step up and perform in different conditions in difficult situations. The fact that I wasn’t able to do that was bothering me.
Not so much the milestones as such, because I never played for milestones. A lot of people ask me this question, how do you keep scoring hundreds? And I’ve always told them, 100 is something that happens along the way within my goal, which is to hit as long as possible for the team and get as many runs as possible for the team. But, yeah, if I have to be brutally honest, it gets a little complicated and difficult because the moment you walk out of the hotel room, from the guy outside the room to the guy in the elevator, the bus driver , whoever. he is saying: we want a hundred.
So it plays in your mind all the time, but that’s the beauty of playing for so long too: getting these complications to come up and overcoming these little challenges. And then when it comes together well, like it did in this game, that gives you that extra breath of air to go further, go further and start enjoying cricket a lot more and being more excited for what’s to come. I’m happy it happened at the right time before the World Test Championship finals. I will definitely go there very relaxed and like a very excited man.
Dravid: Thank you Virat, thank you for your honesty. That’s really a great lesson for a lot of little kids, knowing that even great champion players can sometimes feel some pressure. The pressure of expectations is due to your own performance.