India captain Virat Kohli has questioned the “utility” of pre-series tour games if the touring side is not provided with ideal conditions and opposition before a Test series starts.
India have lost back-to-back Test series in South Africa and England with many former greats, including legendary Sunil Gavaskar questioning as to why the team did not play adequate number of warm-up games.
During an interview with Michael Holding for ‘Sony Liv’, Kohli gave his point of view on the raging debate about the team’s mode of preparation.
“Lot of people talk about tour games but where are those tour games happening and against what quality of bowling are very important questions to be asked,” Kohli said.
“Because if you don’t get the preparation you need before a Test series, then it is actually not utilised well. Time is not utilised well if you don’t get the quality of opposition that you will face in Test cricket,” he added.
Asked where exactly India went wrong in the ongoing series against England, Kohli pointed out two crucial phases — the second innings chase at the Edgbaston (1st Test) and the first innings at Southampton (fourth Test).
“Sitting right now, two things — the second innings at Birmingham and first innings at Southampton. Sitting here, I am not thinking of anything else. The key was to make the team win and twice I could have contributed more.
“I know Trent Bridge was great but I remember second innings at Birmingham and first innings at Southampton and I am thinking about that. I am thinking so that if I am in the same position once again, I won’t let the team down,” the Indian captain said.
The skipper said that as a leader, he is the first one to own up mistakes.
“I am always focussed on where my mistakes are and how I can improve upon them. I am willing to accept mistakes even in the best of times so that I can keep on improving.
“It’s important for the team that my mindset stays good so that I can lead from the front and if I am only thinking about my performances, then I am not doing justice to the responsibility that I am given.”
But Kohli did admit that it “hurt” losing matches from the position of dominance.
“It was a competitive series and we have already understood and admitted the things that we haven’t done well. That’s something we are keen to improve on as to get into competitive positions, you understand that you have the ability. But ability only takes you to a certain extent and then your mental toughness comes into play when you have to win Test series in difficult conditions and difficult countries, something that we aspire to do,” he said.
“When you don’t do that being in winning positions, obviously hurts more than anything. Probably, that’s frustrating, we have shown skill sets to get into winning positions and not capitalise on them. Try and get better as a team. Provided we are mentally tougher than opposition in difficult situations.”
Having scored nearly 550 runs in four Tests, Kohli has stamped his authority as the best batsman of this generation. Questioned on how he handles the on and off-field pressures, Kohli, who is couple months shy of his 30th birthday said that he doesn’t care about perceptions.
“I am more focussed on having a very solid life, being happy with life and doing the right things on a daily basis and then everything else seems to be an enjoyable journey as a part of the larger process,” he said.
“For me, the larger picture is always going to be life. If I am solid and doing the right things, then I am much more confident on the field. I don’t play for perceptions, for people or for reputation, I only play to make the team win and that’s why I started playing the sport.”
Kohli might have broken a plethora of records but numbers are inconsequential for him.
“I didn’t start playing to have numbers and they are inconsequential. People remember your attitude and what you brought onto field,” he said.
He then cited the example of Sir Vivian Richards.
“When you talk about the great West Indies side (of 70’s and 80s), no one talks about Sir Viv’s average, they talk about his attitude and what the charisma he brought on to the field, how he inspired people. So I see this greater responsibility in the position that I am put by that power (Almighty) to inspire people. For that I need to do the right things,” Kohli said.
While the batsmen might have let him down, Kohli showered accolades on his bowlers for their lion-hearted performances throughout the series.
“It’s nothing but hardwork as these guys want to be the best bowlers in the world and I am proud to see that as captain. When you see these guys running and bowling in partnerships, its a beautiful feeling that you are not trying to outdo anyone else but you are trying to take 10 wickets for the team. That’s what these guys have shown,” he said.
“They have bowled with heart on all five days of Test cricket. At 6:15 pm in the evening, (Mohammed) Shami is bowling 90 miles per hour, Ishant (Sharma) running all day, they have worked on their fitness and strength. They have been honest with their preparations,” he concluded.