The stage was set: not long after a nice felicitation ceremony to honour him for playing his 100th Test, Virat Kohli found himself at the crease and appeared ready for a big score. He was timing the ball well, his drives, cuts, and pulls giving the impression that the day ahead could entail a special treat for the fans.

But five runs away from his half-century, he fell to left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya, deflating the spirits of an enthusiastic crowd. It added to the litany of scores in the 30-80 range in the recent past.

Kohli admitted he was disappointed to have got out again after getting a start. “I got a good start; I was batting well. When you get a start and you get out like that you feel disappointed as a batter, and I’m no different,” he told reporters at the end of day one.

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“The endeavour is always to make sure that you play a big inning for the team and put the team in a strong position, and that’s something that I look to do every time that I play. Because you get a start and you get out, it feels a bit more disappointing rather than a string of low scores where you’re not getting to that 30-40 mark. It’s something that I’ll have to be mindful of, and try to build on the starts that I’ve got in the recent past and convert them into big scores,” he said.

‘Not bothered’

Kohli, clarified, however, that he wasn’t bothered by the fact that he hasn’t had a century for more than two years. He felt he was batting well and contributing to useful partnerships, and that was all that mattered to him.

“I’m not bothered at all. From a worldly point of view, people look at milestones and they talk about a lot of things which are just a conversation on the outside. I know for a fact that I’ve been involved in very important partnerships for the team in the recent past. Everyone’s point of view is different, my point of view is very different at the moment; if people are not getting to see me getting those big scores game after game it’s probably down to their expectations of me and the standards of which have not been set randomly. I’ve been performing consistently and hence the expectations are there.

“But even today, that partnership of 90 runs for us was an important one, looking at the course of the game. We were two down for 80-odd. So as long as your focus is on the right things, I’m not bothered about milestones and these kinds of things. These are conversations happening on the outside and they will continue. We are somehow crazy about milestones and materialistic achievement; I personally don’t think like that. I’m batting well and that’s the most important thing for me,” he said.

‘Special moment’

Kohli admitted he was nervous walking out to bat in his 100th Test.

“Rahul  bhai  (Dravid) asked me in the morning: how are you feeling? I said, to be honest, I had butterflies in my stomach. It was a special moment; I didn’t realise the magnitude of the occasion till the time things got closer to today. And how the presentation happened, the ceremony happened. There were people in the stadium today as well, so it was a moment which was very, very special. And I did feel very nervous walking out.

“Walking out as a specialist batter, I’ve said this before, even before I became captain my mindset was exactly the same. It never changed, it never wavered. I always wanted to be a responsible player for the team and I always took responsibility even when I wasn’t captain. So, for me, nothing changed. Obviously, captaincy brings in a lot more responsibility. But even before that, my mindset was the same as it is today. So, nothing has changed for me after captaincy,” he said.

Kohli said he was proud to have come this far in his Test career.

“It’s been a great journey. As I said in the morning, it was tough from the point of view that I have played three formats of the game plus the IPL every year for the last 10-11 years consistently, and that is a big challenge in itself. And from memory, if I recall I’ve only missed a couple of Test matches through injury. One of them happened recently in South Africa so I’m immensely proud of how I have handled my physique and my fitness levels to come this far. And a lot of discipline, lot of lifestyle changes; if you don’t have discipline in life, you won’t be able to come this far, especially playing all formats of the game and switching between formats.”