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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

I’m at peace with how I’m playing, says fit-again Kohli

Having not scored a Test hundred for the last two years, Kohli put things in perspective with regard to his form.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty |
Updated: January 11, 2022 8:20:57 am
virat kohli india, virat kohli press conference, ind vs sa, india kohli, sports news, indian expressThe Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli had not played the second Test at Wanderers after getting back spasm. (AP/PTI Photo)

On eve of the series decider at Cape Town, Indian captain Virat Kohli informed that he has recovered from the injury and will play the final Test. Fast-medium bowler Mohammed Siraj, however, is ruled out, nursing a hamstring injury.

Having not scored a Test hundred for the last two years, Kohli put things in perspective with regard to his form.

“It’s not the first time. Let’s not get away from reality too much. It happened a few times in my career. England 2014 was one of those phases. But I don’t look at myself from the lens that the outside world looks at me with. And eventually the standards we are talking about today, that I’m being compared with, have been set by myself. So they are not an occurrence from outside. And more than anyone else, I take a lot of pride in wanting to do the best thing for the team that I can and wanting to perform regularly for the team,” the skipper said.

He spoke from the team’s point of view. “You have to understand that in sport, sometimes things do not go the way you want them to go. But at the end of the day, I realise as a player, as a batsman, I have been involved in very important moments for the team over the last calendar year or so. And for me, that is a matter of a lot of pride, that I have been part of very important partnerships, when the team needed me.

“And eventually those moments have been crucial for us in many Test matches. So sometimes your focal point had to shift. If all the time you look at yourself and judge yourself on the basis of numbers and milestones, I don’t think you will ever be content or happy with what you are doing. And I’m at peace with how I’m playing and what I have been able to do for the team when there’s a tricky scenario.”

Ashwin’s improvement

With Ravindra Jadeja available for the Tests in South Africa, Ravichandran Ashwin might have to warm the bench again. In seaming conditions, India probably wouldn’t have shown the luxury of playing two spinners. Then again, this falls within the realm of conjecture. Reality is that Ashwin has played in two Tests and his captain is full of praise for his contributions.

“Jadeja’s value everyone understands and everyone knows over the years what he has done for the team. But I think Ash is playing that role beautifully as well for us. If you look at his batting contribution in the last Test and the way he bowled in that second innings – 19 runs in 10 overs and taking a wicket, and he easily could have had two or three – I think that was an outstanding contribution to the team,” Kohli said at the presser.

The Indian team management faced criticism for dropping the off-spinner in all four Tests in England. But India played with four fast bowlers and there was room for only one spin-allrounder, Jadeja making it by dint of his better batting ability.

The last tour of Australia in 2020-21 witnessed Ashwin’s revival as a bowler in overseas conditions and the England void notwithstanding, he has been doing well in South Africa also. Kohli concurred.

“Ash knows his game has come forward by leaps and bounds, especially bowling overseas. He understands that himself. He is in a very comfortable space where he is willing to contribute for the team. And he is doing so, in the right intention, in the right way. When we have these two quality cricketers, one or the other really doesn’t matter. Unfortunately Jadeja has had an injury. But Ash has obviously done the job in his absence and we have full faith that Ash can continue to play that role of a spinning all-rounder for us in any conditions.”

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