It has now been more than 27 months that Kohli has been stuck on 27 Test hundreds but the former India skipper, despite acceptance of disappointment for frittering away another good start in the opening Test against Sri Lanka here, isn’t bothered about the quantum of runs as long as he is batting well.
“You obviously feel disappointed as a batsman. I need to be mindful and convert the 30s and 40s into big scores,” he said during his interaction with the media at the end of day’s play after contributing a classy 45 to the team’s 357/6.
But does he feel the need to change the process since big scores aren’t coming, the response was a sharp one.
“I have been preparing exactly the way I have prepared and as long as I am batting well, not bothered at all. From a worldly point, people look at milestones and they talk about a lot of things and they are just conversations on the outside,” he said.
He didn’t forget to mention that he had a 90-run stand with Hanuma Vihari and that was important.
“Even today, partnership of 90 runs was important for us as we were 2 down for 80 odd. So, as long as I focus on the right things, I am not too bothered about milestones and these are conversations that happen on the outside and continue to do so.
“We are somehow crazy about milestones and materialistic achievements. I personally don’t think like that and I am batting well and that’s the most important thing for me,” there was pragmatism in his tone.
Fine-tuning skills difficult in COVID times
Prior to the game, Kohli looked a bit scratchy during a practice session where he got out multiple times to pacers and spinners alike. In fact, both Ravindra Jadeja and Saurabh Kumar, the two left arm spinners, beat his outside edge and clipped the stumps.
The dismissal by Lasith Embuldeniya on Friday, when he played on the back-foot not expecting much turn only to see the off-stump disturbed, led to questions if players are finding it difficult in current environment to work on their game.
“Lot of things have changed since COVID happened,” he agreed.
“We also have to understand that we play regularly in bubbles and as you said, we are always and always involved in cricket all the times.
“It’s very difficult to get away from it and if you want to go back and work on something in your game, then you have to consider going back and come back and be in quarantine for five days and then sit in a hotel room where all the progress means nothing.
“It’s not been an easy environment to get away from the game and get time to work on things. That’s the reality of the situation that we play in,” he explained.
In earlier times, players could switch off during breaks but bio-bubbles have extended the series durations with hard quarantines and managed isolation making switching off extremely difficult.
“It has been challenging in how you follow your processes…you don’t really have time to work on things and fine-tune a few things and switch off from the game and come back fresh.
“It’s something that not just me but all cricketers across the world have spoken about. It does take a toll on you. Constantly thinking about the same thing day in and day out. The switch off that we used to have earlier can’t be accessed so much (now).”
100 Tests is testimony to my discipline
For Kohli, the 100 Tests in this day and age of gruelling schedules, including the IPL, is a testament to his fitness and disciplined lifestyle as he has missed only two matches in the longest format due to injury.
“I am immensely proud of how I have handled myself and handled my physique and fitness levels to come this far. Obviously lot of discipline and lifestyle changes.
“If you don’t have discipline in life, you won’t be able to come this far.”
Nothing changes now that I am not captain
For Kohli, nothing has changed since his captaincy tenure ended as he has now started his journey as a specialist batter after 68 Tests in charge.
“As a specialist batter, I have said this before. Even before I became captain, it was exactly the same.
“It never changed and it never wavered and I have always been a responsible player and took responsibility in different things even when I wasn’t captain,” he said.
“Obviously, captaincy brings in lot more responsibility.”