To become a good captain, you need to take strong decisions: Virat Kohli

To become a good captain, you need to take strong decisions: Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Test skipper Virat Kohli enjoying being the leader. The results have been fantastic. Under his helm, India has so managed two overseas series win and recently reclaimed the No.1 position. Kohli took over in 2014 under unexpected circumstances.

In December 2014, he led his first Test match against Australia in MS Dhoni’s absence, scoring twin tons ( 115 and 141) as India nearly pulled off a sensational victory over the hosts at the Adelaide Oval.

He was then named full-time Test captain after Dhoni’s unexpected retirement before the final match of the four-Test series against the Aussies. He took over the reign of the team and celebrated the occasion with a fluent 147.

Speaking within recent interviews with BCCI.tv, Kohli talked about his journey so far as the Test cricketer, the challenges a Test cricketer faces and the responsibility of being the captain of the side.

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“It is an honour to be leading the Test team for the country. To be a Test cricketer for starters and then to lead a Test side; for me it is paramount. You don’t think about being number one when you begin as captain but you obviously want to be on top in whatever format you play and that is all that we strive for.”

“To have the responsibility of making sure that we play well as a Test team is something that gives me lot of pride and I enjoy that. It is a challenge for you to test yourself and be able to take other players along and go towards one goal; which I think I have been put into is a position of privilege rather than a position of pressure.”

“The way Test cricket tests you, nothing else can. In tough situations you understand the kind of emotions you go through. It takes a lot of discipline and preparation to be a Test cricketer for India. You need to have strong discipline in terms of your routines, doing things consistently right from preparing from the moment you are in your room by yourself or three days before the game you have to do over and over again to give you that stability and consistency in your own head.”

Kohli’s debut game as skipper ended in a defeat at Adelaide Oval. Later, his second overseas game as a captain came against Sri Lanka at Galle which also ended up in a loss. Losing always has a negative effect on most of the individuals and teams. But, Kohli falls into the special category of individuals who take as a motivation. He feels that failures are as important as success in one’s life.

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“What failures do is that they give you a reality check and keep you humble. They teach you a lot in terms of understanding the important things which need to be a part of the process. Losses either bring a team really close or they separate a team far away.

“It is the attitude that you take into the next game. If you run away from a loss and are willing to admit your mistakes and confront your faults, they will keep stacking up and eventually you understand that you are not learning and getting better as a player and person. When you have people in the change room who are willing to speak about a loss and mistakes then it makes a lot of difference.

“People were willing to commit to plans that we made as a team because they understood that there is honesty and absolute trust and transparency in the dressing room. Losses are the most important things in life and help you to keep learning and keep getting better.”

India skipper has to face one common task – winning overseas. A skippers’ caliber has always been judged on the overseas record. What he has done at home always has been a secondary factor in judging the leadership skills. Kohli will also have to overcome this challenge.

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“You want to win games everywhere. If we don’t win at home, we will be called a bad team. Once upon a time this young team was told that it is not good enough to play Test away from home but we started playing well away from home. Then we didn’t tackle spinners well and we were tagged as people who cannot play spin well. For us, as cricketers, we understand our mindset the best.

“You win, it is a great achievement but if you don’t then it is not the end of the world as simple as that. If we had to win all the games we would be invincible and no one is invincible. We all have our faults and areas of improvement and we will want to improve as a team. We believe we can play well anywhere in the world and we have the ability to beat any side in the world. It is something that we do believe and has set into the team now. I can vouch for it.”

Kohli is a go-getter and believes in an all-out aggressive approach. Ishant Sharma’s thumping spell against Sri Lanka, KL Rahul’s transformation, and Mohammad Shami’s relentless attitude in the Kolkata test – all can be attributed to the open mindset of Kohli. His hunger for success confidence instills in them.

“Right from Sri Lanka the fast bowling has been outstanding and given us spells that have won us games. There have been bursts of spells that have gotten us two or three wickets and changed the whole Test match. The spinners have always done well but for the quicks to come out and do well especially in conditions that might not suit them is something I am very pleased to see.”

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“The willingness to work hard and train those extra hours for the benefit of the team are certain facets that speak volumes of their character. It has always been within them and they are starting to realize it. When you do these things right and execute them right, it builds character. You get sure of yourselves and you will start seeing them dictate their fields and how and where they want to get a batsman out. They are totally on the right path and making giant strides. I have no doubt in my mind that they will become the stalwarts of Indian fast bowling in the coming years.”

Kohli took over the leadership mantle from Dhoni with Ravi Shastri at the helm of the affairs. However, the coaching staff saw huge changes and he now has of coach Anil Kumble. When asked about his experience of working with the legend, he says that both developed a bonding instantly and since then the results have been very positive for the team.

“When Kumble came in he exactly understood what I wanted from this team going forward. So, there wasn’t much debate. The one big factor is the mindset that he brings in as a bowler. He gives that belief to our bowlers that things do happen if you persist for long enough. To be in those situations and having done them in the past himself makes a massive difference. There is an extra belief in the change room having a player who has already done those things himself. Sometimes your brain is not able to process things that you want to; you can follow advice from someone who knows how it is done. Then you see results and you can trust him to get you a way out in the future as well.”

“Our views matched immediately because we both wanted the same thing for Indian cricket and for this team to go forward. Even before he became coach, funnily enough, I had a long conversation with him when we happened to be on the same flight once sitting next to each other. The views that he had were the same things that I shared with him. He was pleased to know that both were on the same page and our views matched.”

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Virat Kohli signs off by letting everyone know what his ambitions are for the future and what legacy he wants to leave behind as India’s Test captain.

“I can only do my job in the best way possible and I will continue to do that. If there is a time when I need to take the heat for the whole team, I will be the first one doing that upfront that is for sure. To be able to become a captain, you need to take strong decisions and that is something that I have committed to the players that I will do that.”

“The moment I see any negativity or unnecessary criticism coming towards the team, you need to have the courage to counter that and take it on the chin for the team. That is my job as captain. I will do whatever best I can for the team and hopefully, the journey is successful. I have total faith in the abilities of this team and their will to excel. It is a wonderful position to be in and I feel grateful for it.”