Fielding Coach R Sridhar reveals how Virat Kohli called him at midnight to discuss 'Mission Melbourne'

Fielding Coach R Sridhar reveals how Virat Kohli called him at midnight to discuss ‘Mission Melbourne’

Sridhar also revealed that Ravi Shastri emphatically declared that the Indian side should wear the number 36 like a badge.

Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane
Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane. (Photo Source: Twitter)

36 is an important number in Indian cricket history. In the first Test at Adelaide, the Indian side was shot out for their lowest ever score in Test cricket as the Australians humiliated the visitors in India’s first-ever overseas Day-Night Test match. But then, little did the world know what was in store for the next three Test matches.

In the second match at Melbourne, Ajinkya Rahane led from the front with the willow, scored a sensational century, and allowed India to storm right back and level the series. In the third Test in Sydney, the Indian willow wielders put out another rearguard action to frustrate the Aussies.

India batted out 131 overs in the fourth innings, with the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Rishabh Pant, Ravichandran Ashwin, and Hanuma Vihari resolutely fighting the battle with the kangaroos. And then came the historic triumph at The Gabba, where Australia’s fortress crumbled.

Yet again, the Test match was a riveting one, as India chased down 328 runs in the fourth innings. And this time, the catalysts of the run chase were youngsters Shubman Gill, Rishabh Pant, and veteran Pujara again as India won the Test series 2-1.

Ravi Shastri asked the Indian team to wear 36 like a badge

Now, it is a known fact that Virat Kohli left for India after the first game, to be with his family for the birth of his first child. But then, it has now surfaced that Kohli’s heart was always with the Indian side. In a chat on Ravichandran Ashwin’s YouTube channel, fielding coach R Sridhar has divulged some interesting details as to how Kohli messaged him at midnight to the fielding coach’s shock.

Sridhar further added that Kohli said that he would join the discussion on ‘Mission Melbourne’. Sridhar also revealed that Ravi Shastri emphatically declared that the Indian side should wear the number 36 like a badge.

“It was midnight, around 12.30 am, the night we lost the Adelaide Test. Virat Kohli messaged me: ‘What are you doing?’ I was shocked. I thought ‘why is he messaging at this time?’ I told him ‘head coach (Ravi Shastri), myself, Bharat Arun and Vikram Rathour are sitting together’. He said, ‘I’ll also join you’. I said, ‘no problem, come over.’

“He came there and all of us started discussing. That’s where ‘Mission Melbourne’ began. Shastri made a point there: ‘This 36, wear it like a badge! This 36 is what will make this team great’,” said Sridhar. Sridhar also recalled that Kohli and Rahane had a discussion as to what would be the way forward.

And, it was the coach Shastri, Kohli and Rahane who actually decided that the Indian side should strengthen the bowling department, and that was the reason why Ravindra Jadeja was brought into the side to replace Kohli. Sridhar concluded by saying that the move was a masterstroke.

“We were slightly confused but then we started talking about the decisions we’d have to take. Then Virat called Ajinkya the next morning and we had a very good discussion. After a 36 all-out, usually, teams would strengthen their batting. But Ravi Shastri, Virat, and Ajinkya decided to strengthen the bowling. That’s how we replaced Virat with Ravindra Jadeja, and it was a masterstroke,” concluded Sridhar.