He may exude brashness and an original talent that appears to make planning a redundant act, but Virat Kohli has time and again proved he is a thinking captain. Reminiscent of MS Dhoni's professorial sermons, Kohli gave a rare glimpse into how he sets fields for batsmen and how he approaches games.
Indian captains in the past have not always been famous for strategic and long-term thinking. Famous anecdotes detail how a certain captain of the 90s would tell the players to “just go out and bat” no matter what the match situation was. Things have definitely changed from coasting on raw bravado to a carefully planned approach even for T20 matches with MS Dhoni at times breaking down the matches into complex statistical problems. Curiously, Virat Kohli, known more for his aggression on field, appears to be more in the Dhoni-mould and has exhibited the streak quite often.
Speaking about what goes on in his mind when the team is on the field, Kohli said, "The one thing that I try to do is think as a batsman, which is very important. You can read a batsman's body language and figure out where he is trying to score his runs. Unless a guy is playing shots all round the wicket, because then it is very difficult to set a field," reported PTI.
Kohli also detailed how he analyzes batsmen and devices plans to get the difficult ones out. "But if someone is predominantly looking to set up, get in and score his runs one side of the wicket or not play a particular stroke then you pick up these things and set a field accordingly to make him do that. It's all about getting into the batsman's head and creating that pressure to make him make that mistake," he said further explaining his thinking about his field placements.
India were in a comfortable position with a 500+ score after Kohli's maiden double ton and strategy appears redundant when you have such a huge cushion. But Kohli disagreed and stressed on why he pushed for a result all through the match.
"We know that any team can go easy on the opposition when you have 560-570 runs," said Kohli after India's victory. "But what's important is to still have the mind set of defending 350 even, when you have 560. Because when you have a low score on the board that helps you repeat those things again and you don't have to do anything different to suddenly defend a small total."
The Test skipper appears to have a grasp of the game despite being only a few matches old at the helm.
"That's what Test cricket is all about," said Kohli.
"It's not just about what's happening with the bat or ball on the pitch, it's about what's happening in the head as well. It's about how you create momentum for the bowler and the environment around a batsman where he makes that mistake. That's where Test cricket is very different from other formats of the game, which I don't think people realise too much. That's the challenge for any cricketer in this format, to overcome this and do well. That's why it's so testing and so demanding of the players," he concluded, reported PTI.
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