Virat Kohli is aware of his rather modest batting record against England but the India captain is not putting himself under any pressure against them in the five-Test series beginning at Rajkot on Wednesday.
Considered one of the premier batsmen of his generation, Kohli averages close to 46 with the bat but it drops drastically to just 20 from 17 innings against the English bowlers.
In the five-Test series in England in 2014, he managed only 134 runs at an average of 13.4 with a highest score of 39. Of his 13 Test centuries, only one came against England at Nagpur in 2012.
“I can put it very simply as that was the phase when I didn’t perform too well and it happened to be England and could have been any other country in the world,” Kohli told reporters on Tuesday.
“It made me realise what I need to improve in my game so I am pretty thankful to England for that. I have been a really improved cricketer from then on.
“I just take it as a setback in my career, and not motivate myself in a way that I have to prove people wrong or I have to do something special against a particular opposition.”
The right-hander’s form in the five tests would be crucial for the hosts if they are to improve their record against England, who have won the last three series against India.
The last time England toured India in 2012, Cook’s side suffered a thumping loss in the opening test at Ahmedabad but then turned the tables on the hosts to win the four-match series 2-1.
Since then, India have not lost a Test at home, blanking Australia and West Indies, crushing South Africa and whitewashing New Zealand in September.
In contrast, England are still smarting from their loss in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka where they shared the two-Test series 1-1 with the Test minnows.
It prompted Cook to label his side as ‘underdogs’ against India, currently the top Test team.
“I think some team might want to play it down at the start of the series and then surprise the opponent but we are quite aware of those things,” Kohli said.
“At the same time we don’t want to get too ahead of ourselves. We understand what we need to do, so we are not going to get swayed away or carried away by the praise or adulation.”