Kohli pleased to perform despite verbal battle
Virat Kohli has said his first Test century is all the more special because he had to go through a verbal barrage from Australian fielders to get there, and that he gave it back verbally and still got there. He also spoke about the abusive crowds, which he said was an uneven battle because the crowds get away with it and the players end up getting fined or banned.
Kohli said there had been sledging throughout the day, but it reached a "low point" after he nearly ran himself out in desperation to get to his 100th run. "Hilfenhaus said something to me, which was totally unnecessary and out of the blue," Kohli said. "He wasn't even bowling or doing anything. I survived that run-out. He said something to me, which I can't obviously say in a press conference. I gave it back to him. 'You didn't even have anything to do with it, why would you do that?'
"Ishant and me both came together, and started saying stuff to them. They got really pissed [off] with it, I guess, and I usually play my cricket like that. I gave it back, so whatever happened at the end of the day I am pretty happy with what I did."
The sledging battle between David Warner and Ed Cowan, and Kohli has been an ongoing one. Today, though, Kohli said both of them congratulated him on getting his hundred, and Ricky Ponting tried to calm things down too. Kohli said he was never going to take abuse from anyone.
"To give it back verbally and then score a hundred is even better," he said. "I mean, we don't go out there to take any kind of stuff from anyone. We are international cricketers as well. They should know that. We need to let them know that. Be it in any way. By talking and by performing. It's much more satisfying.
"They sledge when they get frustrated. Obviously it was hot out there, and constantly they were sledging the players so they could spoil our concentration. During that partnership they went really, really low.
"In Sydney they were after me because I wasn't scoring. Today they were pissed [off] because I got a hundred so it hasn't changed much, but the reasons have changed."
Peter Siddle said he didn't mind that kind of sparring with Kohli. "I think he has [had a lot to say] but that's part of his game, he's a tough competitor and he's shown that," Siddle said. "He goes out there, has a bit of a chirp in the field, but he digs in when he's got the bat in his hand. That's the way Australia's played the game in the past, and that's the way we like to play it. It's good fun, a good contest, I like coming up against him and he's a good player. It's a nice challenge to have out there, and that's what people want to watch in Test cricket."
The sledging on the field might have turned out to be an even contest, but Kohli was more annoyed with the fan abuse. He was asked if the Australia players got abused just as badly in India. "I don't know about that," Kohli said. "I haven't spoken to Australian players about that. It is really, really frustrating at times because they say stuff which shouldn't be said on a cricket field.
"We have gone there to play, not to be abused like that. If they have come here [to the ground] to enjoy the game, they should do that. Not get drunk and abuse players. It's not fair on players. If the player says anything, they are fined and banned. The crowd can just say anything and go home. It should be played in a fair way."
After scoring his maiden century in his eighth match, Kohli also asked for more patience with youngsters coming into Test cricket. Kohli was under immense pressure after his failures in Melbourne and Sydney, with calls for him to be dropped, and had to work hard to come out of that mental state.
"They [the youngsters] are all waiting for their opportunities," Kohli said. "They are as talented or as skilled as any youngster that gets a chance in the team. All of them are eager to play. Putting too much pressure on someone initially, it's not fair on the guy. You need to let the guy blend into a certain format. Some people start well, some people take time, so you have got to have patience with someone who comes in. All the players who have got chances are good enough. And the day they are mentally even tougher and more sure of themselves, they will be consistent in Test cricket."
This tour has been an emotional journey for Kohli. He watched India lose a Test they could have won, and been involved with crowd abuse and sanctioned for it. He has been the person most sledged by Australia, but he has also been the only Indian to score a century. However, he said he didn't want to get carried away with it.
"I still maintain it's a learning curve for me," Kohli said. "I don't want to say I am established in Test cricket, but I am learning with every game. As long as I can learn and perform at the same time I am going to become a better cricketer everyday, and that's my aim right now."
Kohli didn't get to the century without hiccups, though. Two lower-order batsmen fell while he was in the 90s and that reminded him of Perth, where he was left stranded. "After tea, we lost two wickets in two balls again," he said. "I was pretty frustrated at that point of time. That something like Perth shouldn't happen again. The next over I decided to go after Harris so that I could get runs and finally, when I got the 100th run, I was on cloud nine. Starting your cricket as a young kid, you always dream of achieving a Test century, and that first one is always the most special."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo