Former Australia wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist recalled a time in 2013, during the Indian Premier League (IPL), when Royal Challengers Bangalore’s (RCB) Virat Kohli let a chance go begging of David Miller which allowed Kings XI Punjab to post a win from a difficult position. Gilchrist further added that Kohli had moved on from the game changing moment by the time the after-party had started to highlight the mental strength of the now India captain.
In his column for The Australian, Gilchrist likened Kohli to greats such as Shane Warne, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Michael Jordan to possess a strong mind and highlighted that this is what made them champions. “It’s an understatement to say the greats in any sport have tremendous mental strength. It’s their most potent weapon. Shane Warne, Roger Federer and Serena Williams, Michael Jordan. All are in possession of a sportsperson’s greatest ally, a strong mind. Better than any magical flipper. Far more powerful than a brilliant backhand or ability to hit buzzer-beating three-pointers.”
“The ability to analyse what has just happened, identify areas for change to gain improvement and then most significantly banish the incident to the past, has seen all these champions be, well, just that, champions.”
Gilchrist further paid testament to Kohli’s ability to focus on the cricket pitch when his father passed away at just 18. Virat’s father Prem passed away in the wee hours of the night with Kohli to resume batting next morning for Delhi. As the well told story goes, Kohli did come out to bat and scored 90 runs before being dismissed due to an umpiring error. “What a tough young mind to tread that particular journey back in 2006 and to conquer many a challenge since. It’s a mind that can focus in on the task at hand with laser-like precision, allowing complete clarity to attend to the challenge presented,” writes Gilchrist.
At the start of the tour, Kohli and Gilchrist were spotted chatting during the nets with the Aussie revealing tidbit into the conversation. “.. he said he has really started to finetune his mindset and technical aspects of his batting for Test cricket. Its taken him a while, he said.”
Kohli further added that he takes on the limited overs – T20s and ODIs – almost in autopilot mode now that the frequency is so much and situations very similar. Test cricket, however, is different. “There’s a new and exciting challenge every single day. No certain road map the match will follow. To master this format, like he has the pyjama cricket, he wants to switch the mind into overdrive. To be even more well prepared. Sharper, more focused. If a technique needs changing to adapt to a new scenario, he’s keen to identify it and get to work.”
“Given Kohli took his ODI run aggregate from 9000 to 10000 in just 11 innings and he was in autopilot mode, heaven help the opposition around the world in Test cricket now that he’s giving it his full attention,” he finished.