Virat Kohli believes that a change in mindset after he became India’s captain has been the key to his superlative batting form.
India achieved an unassailable 2-0 lead in their three-Test home series against South Africa, after they defeated the visitors by an innings and 137 runs in the second Test in Pune on Sunday, October 13. The victory came in the aftermath of the hosts racking up 601-5 declared, an innings built on the back of Kohli’s seventh double ton. The 30-year-old, who smashed a career-best 254*, also went past 7000 Test runs in the process.
Another day, another century for Virat Kohli. And it was a big one. https://t.co/dVuX9kIZWh
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) October 11, 2019
“It’s getting the responsibility of being captain,” Kohli told the host broadcaster Star Sports after the game. “If you go out planning a double hundred, you will not get it, but if you just go out planning to play five sessions for your team, you invariably cross that 200 mark as well.
“The mindset is always to help the team as much as possible, play at a tempo the team requires you to, and in that process big scores come. The mindset change is the only reason behind getting the big scores.”
Sunday’s win was Kohli’s 30th in 50 Tests as captain, and he said that team success matters more to him than anything else.
“I am at a stage in my career now where I am just happy to be playing the way I am and contributing for my team,” he said. “Putting the team in a commanding position is the only goal and that’s the only thing I strive for. I love scoring runs, but if they come in a winning cause, that’s the most important thing.”
Another of the architects of India’s success in Pune was fast bowler Umesh Yadav, who was only brought into the Test squad after Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out due to stress fracture. Umesh travelled with the team for the tour of West Indies but was not picked in the XI for any of the Tests.
With India’s abundant fast bowling reserves, opportunities are hard to come by amid the stiff competition. However, that has not dented Umesh’s confidence.
“These situations will keep coming, and I know I have to be ready when I get my chance. For that, it’s important to stay positive, keep playing the game, and stay focused,” he said after registering figures of 6-59 in Pune.
Umesh also credited domestic cricket for helping him stay fit and match-ready for if and when he’s called up for national duty.
“I always make sure I keep getting match practice, whether it’s Ranji Trophy or India A or anything else. These are the things that give me positivity, and my focus remains sharp because the more matches you play, the more match practice you have, which is very important, because as much as you may bowl in the nets, it’s different when you play matches, and know how you’re supposed to bowl, what planning you need to do.
“These things [selection] aren’t in my hands. I can’t say, ‘no, I need to play every Test match’. All the bowlers are good, all of them are doing well, and there’s healthy competition. Whoever does well will keep playing. At some stage, each of us will get chances, and when that happens, I need to be ready, positive, and focused.”