When England arrived for the ongoing Test series, the agenda for India skipper Virat Kohli was twofold. It was time to turn things around after England’s three series wins in a row and to ramp up his own performances against England.
The major talking point was Kohli’s average of 20.12 against Alastair Cook’s team. That was mainly due to his horrendous 2014 tour of England, where problems outside off-stump saw him average a shocking 13.40 in five Tests.
Kohli regaining his very best after that demoralising series has underlined the character he has showed to rectify technical issues in his batting. Ahead of the first Test in Rajkot, Kohli said the failures in England helped him become an improved player.
The evidence of that makeover came on the 2014-15 series in Australia, where Virat Kohli struck four centuries, after almost lifting India to a memorable first Test win at Adelaide as stand-in skipper.
The transformation was monitored b y Sachin Tendulkar, Kohli’s childhood hero and someone the India Test skipper looks up to. Kohli had a few sessions with Tendulkar in Mumbai on his return from England.
“I came back and went to Bombay for 10 days. I spoke to him. He spent time with me. He said he watched me in England and helped me with a few technical things that are important at this level, in terms of getting a good stride in, always having intent when playing the ball and never being unsure of what to do at the crease,” Virat Kohli told The Daily Telegraph in an interview after the second Test in Visakhapatnam.
“I never had a forward press but he told me you should go forward to a fast bowler like you would defend a spinner. Do it with the same conviction. It is the only way you can be in a good position to tackle swing, seam or anything you want. We ended up speaking a lot during that phase. Those things worked for me,” Kohli said.
The batsman hasn’t looked back since then, averaging 54.80 in 31 innings since the England tour. Kohli has also scored two double hundreds, in West Indies and against New Zealand this year.
Tendulkar also had a role in influencing Kohli’s preparation for Tests. “I said in Test cricket I see a lot of guys batting in the nets, they want to hit 200-300 balls before the game. I feel I am ready and tend to overdo things because I am so desperate to do well, so go away from my routine.
“He told me about the importance of staying mentally relaxed. ‘If you do not feel like hitting the ball, don’t hit it. Do not look at other people having a great net session for long hours, go off, try and do the same thing and come out frustrated.’ That helped me a lot.
“When trying to build a career, you straightaway try to make sure everything is in sync for you to do well. Sometimes you have to make your own decisions and because he had played for so long, the expectations and consistency made a lot of sense. From then on, I followed what I wanted to do.”