Former India international Gautam Gambhir has advised Virat Kohli to channelise his competitive spirit to snap out of the indifferent batting form he’s currently undergoing and help his team bounce back in the ongoing Test series in New Zealand. Also Read - India's Probable Squad For ICC World Test Championship Final vs New Zealand: Will Hardik Pandya, Prithvi Shaw, Prasidh Krishna Make Virat Kohli-Led Side?
Citing example from his playing days, Gambhir recalled the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy final against Uttar Pradesh when he was leading Delhi. Having registered a duck in the first innings, he copped severe criticism including from a national selector for his ‘technique and temperament’. Also Read - #InThisTogether: Anushka Sharma-Virat Kohli Begin Fundraiser For India's COVID-19 Fight
An irked Gambhir went on to hit a century in the second dig which led his team to title win. Also Read - Selectors to Take a Call on Hardik Pandya, Prithvi Shaw, Prasidh Krishna For WTC Final - Report
“I was out for zero in the first innings,” Gambhir recalled the innings in his column for The Times of India. “I had to cop a lot of criticism about my technique and temperament. I came into this game reasonably focused, as winning the Ranji Trophy was one of my childhood dreams. But I was not as charged up, besides I had a good number of friends in the UP team which left my intensity sub-par. This criticism, led by one of the national selectors, left me extremely angry. It now seems I needed that anger as till then I was not really ‘in’ that contest.”
Gambhir, who played 58 Tests, 147 ODIs and 37 T20Is, feels Kohli is in a similar situation.
“From a distance it seems Virat Kohli is in a similar situation. He was asked before the start of this tour if saw it as a revenge series after losing to them in the 2019 World Cup semifinal. At the time Kohli replied, ‘Even if you want to think of revenge these guys are so nice that you can’t get into that zone.’ I am not sure if this part of Virat Kohli really works for him,” the 38-year-old wrote.
Gambhir says Kohli is wired to be emotionally charged sportsperson. “He (Kohli) is at his best when he is riled up, when he has a contest. Revenge may be an exaggerated thought but I am not sure of “nice guys” emotion either. I think Kohli is wired up to be that emotionally charged sportsperson who can play a cover drive with calmness of a sage and then lead his troops like an animated cheerleader” he said.
India were handed a 10-wicket thrashing in the first Test in Wellington. The second and final Test starts from Saturday in Christchurch and Gambhir advises India to play with five bowlers and drop Hanuma Vihari for Ravindra Jadeja.
“I think Kohli should play five bowlers. He should play Ravindra Jadeja in place of Hanuma Vihari whether the wicket is flat or a green top,” he said.