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Kohli drops chasing ‘comfort zone’ to embrace T20I risks

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Virat Kohli, the Indian captain justified his decision to bat first after winning the toss in the third T20I against South Africa, citing it as a way for his batsmen to come out of their “comfort zones”.

On a ground believed to be ideal for chasing in limited-overs cricket – Bangalore’s M. Chinnaswamy Stadium – Kohli’s decision to bat first surprised quite a few on Sunday, September 22, given India’s proven track record in T20I chases. As it turned out, South Africa chased down India’s 134-9 comfortably, with 3.1 overs remaining.  The modern-day ‘chase-master’, who himself boasts an average of 81.23 while chasing in T20Is, explained the decision.

“The idea was to come out of our comfort zones,” Kohli said. “We felt that we’ve been 20-30 runs short while batting first in T20 cricket in the past and that has cost us games. So we wanted to bat first and try to put up a big score. After the start we got, being 63-1, we could’ve reassessed it to about 170 rather than thinking of 200, but we kept on losing wickets.”

“Not to take anything away from South Africa. They understood the pitch and hit the right areas. So it was a combination of good bowling and not great decision-making.”

Kohli further hinted that exposing the team to challenging situations and trying to minimising the toss factor would be the way forward while preparing for the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

“You have to take risks to win a game of cricket, nothing is a given before you start playing,” said the Indian skipper. “If we’re willing to get out of our comfort zone a lot more, then we’ll be unfazed by what happens at the toss. Our basic idea is to try and take the toss out of equation, and hence we’re trying to play the best combination we can, having people who can bat till No.9, so we’re in a good position whether we bat or bowl.

“Mentally, if we put ourselves in a situation where we’re ready to do anything, we’ll be in a better position to deal with different situations.”

A surprising incident occurred during the eighth over of the Indian innings, when both Rishabh Pant and Shreyas Iyer appeared to walk in at the same time, after the fall of Shikhar Dhawan’s wicket. Pant was seen pacing forward from the dugout, while Iyer seemed to emerge from behind the sightscreen. Kohli, who was at the crease then, admitted that there was a miscommunication between the two batsmen and the support staff.

“I think there was a miscommunication there,” Kohli said. “That’s what I understood afterwards. The batting coach [Vikram Rathour] had a word with both of them and there was a misunderstanding of who has to go [in] at what stage of the game. So, it was a bit funny afterwards because they both wanted to walk in. It would have been very funny if both had reached the pitch… three batsmen [would have been] in the field. Yeah, I think it was a miscommunication in the middle.

Pant scored 19 off 20, while Iyer made 5 off 8, both of them falling to left-arm spinner Bjorn Fortuin in the 13th over of the innings.

“We had it planned according to phases. So, after 10 overs we decided Rishabh would walk in. Before that Shreyas had to walk in. So, I think both of them got confused and didn’t realise who had to walk in at what stage of the game.”

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