Virat Kohli: Matches played on reaction, belief in moments, not on data, analysis
In his first media interaction after announcing his stepping down as India T20 captain after the World Cup, the RCB skipper addressed only in-house questions ahead of the IPL restart.
After four-and-a-half months, 2021 IPL will resume on Sunday with all the Indian players having completed six days of quarantine after returning from England. “After quarantine, when I stepped out for the first time, I did not feel that we went away at all,” Virat Kohli said in a virtual press meet to unveil Royal Challengers Bangalore’s new blue jersey in respect of Covid warriors. “I felt this is just an extension of where we left.”
Looking relaxed in a low-key media meet on Saturday, Kohli was untouched by talk about the circumstances that led to his quitting as India T20 captain 48 hours earlier. No question from the media was taken though. His Thursday evening twitter statement will remain the final word on the subject, unless he opens up during the rough and tumble of another IPL campaign as RCB chase their first title. (IPL 2021 Full Coverage)
RCB are well placed to make the playoffs at No.3 on the points table after seven of the 14 league games. Kohli and his side though are not just playing to qualify for the knockouts, they are playing to lift the trophy. It has eluded Kohli for eight years and is seen as a vote of no confidence on his T20 leadership.
“The reason we played the way we did (in the first IPL leg) was because we just didn’t focus on how many wins we needed to qualify. We only looked to keep the atmosphere up in the dressing room. Here at practice, we felt as if we had not gone away.”
Passion over numbers
Kohli twice brought up “the outside” talk to harmless in-house questions, a recurring theme in his recent addresses. “People have got jobs to do from the outside, so they will analyse one thing or the other,” he said when asked if he agreed with those who felt the team could lose momentum after a break. “Having played this game for so long at this level, you understand that whether you are seven wins in a row, you have to start the games with the same level of passion and commitment; whether you are no wins out of six games which we have been in the past, you still have to find the passion and motivation to change the results. You just can’t afford to take anything for granted, not wins, not losses.”
In the same reply, he put instincts over data in cricket. “As I said, on the outside there are many data points and analysis. The game is not played on that. It is not on information from the outside, it is on reaction…belief in certain moments, game plans that you set out to achieve. Making sure you have the drive to execute. The simpler you keep it, the fewer distractions you will feel from the outside.”
RCB have had to scramble for replacements with many overseas players having dropped out for the UAE leg. They have made five additions, none of whom have played IPL before. “We haven’t even discussed the replacements and it just feels like they blend in the culture and team plans. The core group of players are as motivated as always. In fact, we feel a little stronger, they (replacements) have given us some new dimensions.”