‘Even if I’m the worst player around, I can’t be in denial’: Virat Kohli speaks on his comeback scoring back to back ODI hundreds

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Until December 2022, Virat Kohli hadn’t scored an ODI century for since March 2019. Now, in the space of a month, he has notched back to back hundreds in the year of the ODI World Cup. These, on the back of a T20 World Cup campaign as India’s highest run scorer and a T20I hundred in the 2022 Asia Cup to break his three year drought without a triple figure score.

Speaking to Suryakumar Yadav in a BCCI video after the first ODI against Sri Lanka in Guwahati on Tuesday, Kohli said, “Do saal mai aisa saal nahi shuru hua (Last two years didn’t start out this way for me). This was the first match of the year and I got a century so hopefully I can build on this because it’s a world cup year and there’s a big Test series coming up against Australia.”

He further added, “In any game, when you score runs you get the confidence. Today, I was just happy that I could bat through the innings almost. To get the 25-30 runs I felt with the dew coming in, they were important. I’m just happy, I’m playing well. For me, it is all about being excited to play. As long as I’m happy to play. I’m able to play like this. Sometimes your mind goes up and down when you’re playing so much but keeping that mental freshness is helping me.”

On his comeback in Asia Cup

After India’s all-format tour of England in July 2022, Kohli was on a break from cricket for a month ahead of India’s Asia Cup campaign in UAE. On how it helped him score more, Kohli said, “Once I came back in (the team) relaxed for the Asia Cup, I started enjoying practice, I started enjoying training again, which is how I’ve always enjoyed my cricket. I’ll just say this, if you are feeling even a little bit of desperation, always take two steps back rather than pushing more and more because then the thing you want will go further away from you.”

He then told Surya, “Now you will also experience this…when you play more and more. Now people look at you differently. Now when Surya goes out to play, people are thinking Surya karke dega (Surya will do it). To keep up with that is a very intense process.”

“Sometimes when your cricket is going well all those things flow well. But when there’s a little bit of dip, then in my case frustration started to creep in because I wanted to play like that….on the expectations people have of me based on how I play. On how I must play. But cricket wasn’t allowing me to play that way and because of that my attachments and desires to play well had totally taken over and I was far off from the game. That’s when I realised, I have to be true to myself. Even when I’m not playing well, I’m vulnerable, I’m not playing well, I’m the worst player around, I have to accept it,” Kohli further added.

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The former India skipper also mentioned that not being able to score per expectations made him ‘cranky’ and that ‘it wasn’t fair’ on his family and close circle.

“I can’t be in denial. Because in my case that was making the frustration creep in. I was getting very cranky, very snappy in my space, which wasn’t good at all. I was feeling that it isn’t fair on anyone around me. Anushka, the close ones, it isn’t fair on the people that support you, that are with you all the time to keep seeing you in that space. I had to take responsibility and put things in perspective.”

On Surya’s form

Kohli was also full of praise for his India teammate, Suryakumar Yadav, who recently became only the second Indian to score three T20I hundreds. These, inside the space of less than six months.

“I want to congratulate you on all the amazing things you’ve been doing,” Kohli said to Surya. “Honestly hum log toh itne saal se lage huye hai but what you are doing is something that I haven’t seen before. You are creating a different template. You are creating a different energy. I can see in the crowds when you go, there’s genuine love and genuine affection because of the way you are playing, which is amazing to see.”

He later added, “The frustration I’m talking about….jaise bowlers isko out karne ki desperation rakhte hai, aur wo aur door chala jata hai. Woh desperation nahi honi chahiye. Woh aur ghabra jaate hai ab toh out nahi ho raha ab aur maarega. (Like the bowlers, who are desperate to get him out and go farther away from doing so. That shouldn’t be there. They panic even more, thinking of him (Surya) scoring more against them).”


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