Self belief ‘most important’, says Virat Kohli

The India captain elaborates on what led to his team’s spirited comeback during a tough tour of South Africa.

Virat Kohli smiles during a book launch in Kolkata on Saturday.   -  AFP

Virat Kohli is not bothered about pandering to public perceptions since he doesn’t want to act like a “robot” in intense match situations.

Speaking during the launch of cricket historian Boria Majumdar’s latest book ‘Eleven Gods and A Billion Indians’, Kohli said, “You cannot be a robot operating for the sake of what people are going to write or say about you.”

Despite having conceded the series with two losses in two Tests during the recent tour of South Africa, Kohli’s team launched a spirited comeback, winning the final Test of the series and the ensuing One-Day International series comprehensively.

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Referring to the tour, Kohli said, “The most important is self-belief. You need to have the ability to look at things in a very different way than anyone else. We kept looking at things from the other perspective like winning the toss and batting, despite opposition from all quarters.”

The decision to bat first in the third Test in Johannesburg on a green top was criticised by many but it turned out to be a master-stroke in the end with the pitch slowly deteriorating. “The team believed it’s the best decision for us and we backed it. In cricket with technique and everything there’s no one way of doing something. There’s always your way and if you believe in your way, you can make things happen.”

Winning mindset

Chasing 241, South Africa collapsed from 124 for one to 177 all out, leaving India winner by 63 runs as it secured only its third Test win on South African soil. “We went to the Test doing all the right things. Our intention was only to win. We were not dishonest to the game we were not scared at any stage. We were brave. We played the game the right way. we were moving ahead at all times.

“It’s been a start, a turnaround after two Tests. But the mindset was only one — we want to win, at any cost. That belief got us back after two Tests when no one believed in us,” he said.

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Kohli valued Sachin Tendulkar’s role in his career and remembered touching his feet on the day of his retirement at the Wankhede Stadium in the Test against West Indies in 2013. “I don’t have too many people who are very close to me. That is just the way life has gone for so many years, because naturally when someone has been stuck by me during tough times, I value that person a lot. I continue that.

“The impact that he (Tendulkar) has had on me as a cricketer growing up [is immense]. I understand the importance of it. It’s very difficult to explain it,” Kohli said.