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Virat Kohli opens up on the transition from playing under MS Dhoni to leading India

Ram Kumar
38.94K   //    05 Oct 2016, 20:16 IST
Virat Kohli
Kohli’s attack-first policy has paid rich dividends for the Indian team

Having been undefeated in their previous 12 matches, India’s Test team is currently on a roll. Among the major reasons behind this streak, skipper Virat Kohli has set his sights on continuing the impressive form in their march towards becoming an all-round side. The 27-year old from Delhi looked back at his eventful journey and attributed the 2014 Adelaide Test to his immense self-belief.

In a freewheeling chat with, he also opened up on the difference between playing under the captaincy of MS Dhoni and taking over the coveted mantle from the wicket-keeper batsman.

Kohli admitted, “I can’t measure growth but as a cricketer you do get better with time. First few Test matches, I was at sea and I didn’t know plan B of something else that we could have done. I made a lot of mistakes as captain but that only made me learn more.

“It was important to go for victories and risking a loss because for me it was all about finding myself as a captain and for the rest finding themselves as players. The way Test cricket tests you, nothing else can.”

On a warm morning at the Adelaide Oval, he found himself in a tantalizing position against an Australian side which was extremely dominant at home. Set 364 to win on the final day, Kohli’s maiden Test as skipper presented him with two choices- to play out a respectable draw in the opening Test of an away series or go after history. No team had ever chased over 350 in the fourth-innings at this venue.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, Kohli’s India did not back down and instead went for the target. The man himself followed up his first-innings ton with another remarkable century as the visitors fell agonizingly short of what would have been a sensational triumph. Though they lost by 49 runs, a bold statement indicating their aggressive approach was made.

Kohli reminisced, “The thing that gave me belief that I can lead this young team was on the fourth day of the Adelaide Test when Australia was still batting. We had a brief chat in the change room in terms of me addressing the players that whatever target they give us, we are going for it no matter what.

“I asked, ‘Do all the eleven players buy into it and agree?’ And all eleven players said yes and we agreed to going into the rest of the Test with that mindset. Although we lost the game, that particular moment showed to me trust and courage from the whole bunch.”

‘Learnt a lot from MS Dhoni’s captaincy’

After the Adelaide Test, regular skipper Dhoni returned to lead the side for the next couple of matches before announcing his retirement from the format. The stage was set for India to enter into a brave, new era.

On evolving as a captain, Kohli revealed, “When I was playing under MS Dhoni, it was all about preparing for my own batting plans and I didn’t have so much responsibility in terms of leading the team.  I learnt a lot from Dhoni seeing the way he made decisions.

“They might have been right or wrong but to convince yourself to make one decision and go forward with it; I think that is the essence of being a captain. After I became captain, things changed in the sense that I understood that I had to take decisions now. That extra responsibility helped me play even better than I probably would have been.“

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Ram Kumar
Someone who views sport as a metaphor for life.
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