Captaincy in cricket is a double-edged sword. Even the greatest players in the world have been found wanting when the responsibility of leading a side has been put on their shoulders.
The added pressure weighs on them and cracks start appearing in their game. But, for some others, it brings a sense of composure.
Jharkhand’s Virat Singh is very much a part of the second bracket.
The dashing left-hander continued his fine touch from the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (259 runs in six innings; strike rate 154.16) and notched up a 116-ball 143 in the opening Group B fixture of the Vijay Hazare Trophy to help his team chase down a hefty target of 356 against Maharashtra.
The 25-year-old credits captaincy for helping him better his game.
“When you are leading the side as a batter, it’s totally different. You think a lot. Being a leader gives you that extra sense of responsibility to win games,” he told Sportstar.
“When I’m captaining the side, I’m going into battle. I don’t see my personal score. What I see is the scorecard and if we are chasing, I just see what’s the target,” he added.
“If, while reaching the target, I get to my hundred, then it is a plus point.”
On Thursday, Virat played a captain’s innings after Jharkhand lost both openers within the first five overs.
Teams go into a shell during such phases of play and get preoccupied with trying to prevent the loss of another wicket.
However, Virat ensured the team didn’t fall into this trap and played his natural attacking game while forging a partnership with Vikas Vishal to ensure the required run rate didn’t slip out of hand.
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“Stay in there veerey. Calculate karke khel, yeh ho jayega (Calculate the rate and play, this total can be chased),” shouted his teammates from the dugout as Virat went about his innings.
He stuck to the plan in the middle overs, combining with Vishal for a 144-run stand and then putting up 91 crucial runs with Saurabh Tiwary.
“I told Vikas that if we look to strike the bad balls and play till the last this could be chased,” Virat said.
“We had targets in between overs, like for 30 overs we had to reach around 200 runs, which we did. Then, in the last 20 overs, 150 was gettable with wickets in hand and every batter batted well so we were able to chase it down.”
Virat said this template has been working quite well for the team.
“No matter what you get, [be it] 30 runs, 40 runs, but it has to be for the team. It has been working for us even during the T20 tournament (Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy). Unfortunately, we didn’t qualify but we had a good tournament,” the captain added.
With an Indian Premier League (IPL) auction around the corner, Virat is looking to score big in this tournament with the hope of a second tryst with the T20 extravaganza.
“A lot of batters have been getting one or two hundreds [in the Vijay Hazare], but they don’t really get the recognition,” he said.
“The way I’m batting, my goal would be, if I’m getting those starts, to convert it into a big hundred. And if I’m getting three or four hundreds, some team might see me and pick me.”
Virat’s celebrations after the hundred and the win were toned down. He says his eyes are set on going the distance in the Vijay Hazare tournament, a trophy that has eluded Jharkhand since 2010/11.
“We are looking to qualify and make it big. The talk in the changing room has been about winning the trophy. We are thinking about one match at a time and our focus is on winning the championship,” he said.
“My goal is to now get as many runs as I can and support my team in winning matches and championships.”
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