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Virat Kohli fires at media again, says ‘can’t live in dreamland, praise doesn’t matter to me’

Virat Kohli didn’t take kindly to questions about the Indian cricket team’s ODI series win in South Africa, slamming the Indian media for its criticism of his side’s Test series loss

cricket Updated: Feb 17, 2018 22:10 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Centurion
India vs South Africa,Virat Kohli,Indian cricket team
Virat Kohli has not taken criticism too kindly after India lost the Test series against South Africa 2-1. On Friday, after India blanked the South Africans 5-1 in the ODI series, Kohli wasn’t too happy with praise either. (AFP)

Armed with a victory, India skipper Virat Kohli took a dig at the journalists as his bitter-sweet relationship with the Indian media in South Africa continued. Kohli had been at the receiving end of criticism during the Test series when a few of his selections were questioned as India lost the first two Tests before coming back to win the final Test and now this ODI series. (IND vs SA 6th ODI HIGHLIGHTS)

Asked if the ODI series win was his biggest victory on foreign soil, Virat Kohli snapped, saying, “It is something you people can tell because till a month back we were a very bad team. Now such questions are being asked. We have not changed our mindset, we were focussing only on our cricket and I don’t want to flow in this – whether this is the biggest win or not. Our job is to play, work hard and perform, try to win every match. (IND vs SA 6th ODI HIGHLIGHTS)

“Whether this is the biggest win or not, whoever is going to analyse and write, he will. For us as a team, there is only one motive – give 120% effort, work hard in practice and on every day of the tour keep our mindset good and keep our preparation at a level where we can win. And that is what we have achieved in this series and we are very happy about it. Our jobs is not (to) get any tags or create headlines, our job is to play cricket and that is what we have done perfectly in this series.”

When an Indian journalist asked him his opinion on Friday’s innings, praising him by saying that he could run short of words, Virat Kohli responded, “Look, I am not going to give in to this. I know for a fact that 90% of the people did not give us a chance after the two Tests. I was sitting in the same room giving a press conference. So we understand where we have come from. I am not going to live in a dreamland right now and accept all the praise and sit here and feel good about this, because it does not matter to me, honestly it doesn’t. It didn’t matter when we were 2-0 down and it doesn’t matter when we are 5-1 up because what matters is the change room.

“What management thinks about me, what I think about the players, what the players think about me. These things do not matter. The headlines change day in and day out. Tomorrow if I play a bad shot, everyone will conveniently do what they want to do. So as I said it is not my job to say anything about what I do. If I make a mistake, I will come here and accept it. I have never been one to give excuses. I am never one to come here and praise myself. I can never do that. This is a job for me, I am not doing anyone a favour. I am representing my country. It is an honour for me. I am stepping out to do my job.”

Virat Kohli, though acknowledging that there are areas that need improvement, refused to divulge them, saying it is for him and the team management to decide. Here is what he said on other issues after the end of the final ODI:

On not experimenting even on winning the series

There is only one guy whose place we wanted to experiment with – Bhuvneshwar, because his workload was immense. Bumrah is a world class bowler in this format. Dropping Bumrah is like dropping Shikhar Dhawan or Rohit Sharma. No one will speak about those things, it is very easy to drop the bowlers. Bhuvi’s workload was massive, the two wrist-spinners deserved to play all the games because of the way they’ve bowled they’ve been one factor that has been in the mind of the opposition throughout.

So we decided that giving rest to Bhuvi was the ideal situation. Also we want to strengthen our middle order so giving them as many chances as possible was also important. Another chance to Iyer and to (Shreyas) Jinks (Ajinkya Rahane). It is very important to understand that one knock can make a difference in someone’s career. So we gave them one extra opportunity. Bhuvi was feeling up in his body and hence the change. We didn’t feel like we wanted to change something else.

How far has the experimentation reached since you began it in August-September?

We certainly feel really good as a team but there are areas to be discussed because no one has a perfect game. We’ll definitely sit down as a team and figure out areas that need improvement and strengthening. I am not denying that there are areas that need strengthening. We don’t want to live in a dreamland where we don’t accept our mistakes. We know as a team we need to improve on certain things and we’ve identified those things and it is up to us to discuss those areas.

Can you tell us the areas which need improvement?

I don’t want to disclose it, don’t want to discuss it publicly. It is a very personal thing about the team and I don’t want to say it in a press conference.

Does the absence of Faf du Plessis and others dampen the feeling of victory?

Not one bit. We had the same mindset when we played in Sri Lanka recently, when we beat Sri Lanka 9-0, everyone said it is a weak team. When we beat Australia, people still said Australia is not a good ODI side, then we beat NZ, SL again and now South Africa here. So the focus has always been on the team. It doesn’t matter to us who is playing, who is not playing, whether the team is what it is supposed to be or it is not is not in our hands and is none of our concern.

We want to take the best team that we can on the field and have the mindset to want to perform the best on any given day that we represent our country. That remains our mindset, regardless of what happens. The ups and downs will always be there. The intensity, the respect and mood in the change room, the mindset to deliver for the team, accepting every situation as it comes, it has been the hallmark of this team. So regardless of what the opposition is like, we always go out there and what is presented to us, look to embrace those things and then put up our performances accordingly.

Do you feel that you are the best batsman in the world?

Look I will be very honest with you, at this stage I don’t feel like competing with anyone. My only motivation is to get into that frame of mind. I am not competing with anyone at all. If anything, I only look to help my team in any way I can. And during the course of that, I have mentioned that if you are thinking about the team, special things happen. But if you are thinking about being ahead of someone else then you will be found out very soon by this game and you are compromising on what the team needs.

As I said I don’t want any tags, I don’t want any headlines, I just go out there and do my job, it is up to the people to write what they write, I don’t want to be called anything, it is my job, I am supposed to do what I am doing. Everyone is doing a job, they have the freedom to write and say what they want but it is very important that I don’t change with that because my zone is very simple, it is simply doing hard work and performing for the team.

First Published: Feb 17, 2018 08:53 IST