A good morning for Virat Kohli is one when he doesn’t have to set the alarm on his phone for 6.30am. It’ll be like that on Tuesday, said the India skipper after taking the team to the Test rankings’ summit and winning the series against New Zealand at Eden with a day and Test to spare. Reasons enough to spend some more time between the sheets, you’d think.
There have been India captains who answered in monosyllables and made it evident that interacting with the media is an occupational hazard.
So far, Kohli has shown a desire to engage and it’s not just with scribes. At a time when cricket is struggling for answers to keep Tests relevant – this one being no different --- Kohli did his bit to get the crowd involved at Eden over four days. With small gestures like acknowledging them every time he walked in to the change room and more.
When Kohli took the new ball on Monday, he showed it to the crowd. On Saturday, when Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were operating in tandem, Kohli, standing at cover, exhorted Eden to get behind the team like it so often happens in football. He also indicated to the drummers to up the decibels. From 85/4 in 24.4 overs, New Zealand slumped to 128/7 in 34, Kumar completing his first fifer at home with those three wickets.
“You engage the crowd for the betterment of the team. I think that creates a massive difference. We’ve seen that happen in England, South Africa and Australia. I like to think as a batsman what effect that would have on a player walking in. You know, when the ball is reverse-swinging, the crowd’s going mad and you have a bowler who is warm and ready…(Today) Shami fed off the energy of the crowd and bowled 12 more balls and got the team a wicket. Otherwise, we would have had to get up at 6.30 again,” said Kohli.
“It’s our responsibility to keep Test cricket where it belongs. And if we play cricket like this; you saw how engaged the crowd was. They like to see exciting cricket and we have to provide it. You have to interact with them, make sure they are a part of the whole thing and feed off their energy. It happens so much in limited overs (cricket), so why not in Tests? A challenging situation in Tests is the most exciting thing a viewer can see, and for a player as well. We are just taking this as a privilege and responsibility to keep doing what we can do to the best of our abilities.”
Should that translate into giving Kohli an additional day when he doesn’t need to be up with the lark, he certainly won’t complain.