England v India, 1st ODI, Chester-le-Street September 2, 2011

Kohli's learning curve

The one-day series offers India's batsmen a final chance to shine on this tour and one of their youngsters has a key part to play
36

These days the media asks questions to Virat Kohli as if he is a senior member of the Indian squad. He does behave like one. Kohli's answers are clear, measured and forthright. The best part is Kohli listens, before speaking his mind. He is the same in the nets and on the field. If you see him in training Kohli is constantly egging, encouraging, offering insights to his team-mates. And he is not shy to express himself whether it's to Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni, Parthiv Patel or any of the coaching staff. Kohli wants to get involved. He enjoys it.

At Chester-le-Street, having finished with his first round of batting in the nets, Kohli stood eagerly waiting for Dravid to finish facing the throwdowns from Trevor Penney, the India fielding coach. Suddenly he realised Parthiv had jumped the queue. "PP, I am going after Rahul bhai," Kohli said confidently and walked into the net. Parthiv, Kohli's senior in terms of experience, just moved aside. Such simple things sometimes do show the hunger within.

Penney started off with a wide. "Wide start, scared of you," he joked with Kohli, who did not respond. He had come into the net with a purpose in mind and he did not want lose the intensity. Penney's job was to make sure the youngster would not get carried away, to make Kohli play the percentage shots instead of going for the broke.

For the initial two overs Kohli's focus remained mainly on whether he was getting his body position correct. But steadily he started to play his strokes. But when Penney bowled short at his body or over his head, Kohli went for the pull off both the front and back foot. At first instance it seemed he did not want to be dictated to.

MS Dhoni, who was to the left of Kohli, batting in the adjacent nets, had been quietly observing his younger team-mate. The fact that Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul had troubled Kohli during his debut Test series in the Caribbean in June had not been lost on Dhoni.

After he finished his batting Dhoni went and stood behind Penney, speaking to the Zimbabwean after every ball for nearly ten minutes. After a few short deliveries, Penney had a quiet word with Kohli, asking him to stay calm and not hit every short ball. "Twenty20 is a different format. In a one-dayer I know I have to play steady and get 15-20 runs before playing such a shot," Kohli replied to Penney, who felt one of Kohli's favourite shots, a pull over midwicket, was loaded with risk.

"You don't play that," Penney said a few balls later, as he walked in hastily towards Kohli before delivering the message in soft yet fatherly tone. Kohli had decided to play forward to a delivery that was seaming away having pitched on length on the off stump. It was a similar sort of delivery Rampaul had bowled him in his debut Test innings at Kingston which Kohli had gone chasing, ending up only edging to the wicketkeeper. "I had done this once," Kohli said.

Dhoni stood there at a distance, seemingly unperturbed. He was joined by Tendulkar. Suddenly Kohli was under the scanner. The reason his seniors were restraining Kohli was because they, and even Kohli, knew the England fast bowlers will not wait long before testing him with the short ball. Penney's, and effectively Dhoni's, suggestion was to pick your bowler and the situation. You do not play the shot just because you can.

Kohli is one of the most improved India batsmen and has shown his maturity in high-pressure situations in the past like the World Cup final. His 83-run partnership with Gautam Gambhir after the fall of the opening pair of Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag was one of the turning points in the match. Back at the nets Kohli improvised steadily if not readily and he impressed Penney when, after top edging an attempted pull, he played the next one with soft hands.

"To win a one-day match you need batsmen to bat through 20-25 overs and if given a chance, or if the situation allows, we would all like to take up the responsibility," Kohli said at the media conference before the training began. "It's about believing in yourself that you can win the game single-handedly and if we go out with that mindset, we are going to put up a really strong challenge."

He was asked if some of the Indian batsmen's technique against the short ball, which has been attacked and exposed by various bowling attacks, could provide an opening for an England bowling attack full of confidence following the 4-0 whitewash in the Test series.

"It's all about thinking in your mind how you deal with it," he said. "If you want to be scared of it and run away from it, you will end up being nowhere. I am pretty much up for it, I am very positive in my mind and I don't think I have any problem facing it."

Back at the nets, Kohli urged Penney "mix it up brother". He was steadily warming up for the duel with the England quicks. At the same time he needs to acknowledge he can't rush. As Penney threw his final ball, another short one, Kohli played it far from fluently. "Your positioning is not correct for that shot," Tendulkar made clear. Kohli nodded. He has a lot to learn and he is not afraid.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on September 3, 2011, 15:39 GMT

    @5wombats, but I thought you and people like me also said that history and tradition is what binds us to Test Cricket ;). All of a sudden this U-TURN from you? et tu brutus.....

  • on September 3, 2011, 14:22 GMT

    @WOMBATS ok, while the english are having its stray day, we'll let them have it. After all its the first time they have gone to no.1 even though they invented the game. Guess history hasn't helped you too much either. We beat you in England last time, whitewashed you in India & will do it again this winter. It was just a one-off series on which you are getting off. Get back to your poor man's version of the Indian Premiere League and try to find 11 ENGLISH men who can play for the country, or else you can continue to import South Africans, Asians (and now New Zealanders) whatever works!

  • on September 3, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    @5wombats - I believe you are an England supporter and obviously have nothing to take from history where your team has been the best at CHOKING and losing and never being no.1 in Tests for atleast 3 decades before now ..SURE you cant look into history....Neither can you look into future cuz its gonna be India All Over World Cricket ;) ;)

  • on September 3, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    One Tour doesn't change anything. Agreed that test team is not going to be very strong with the likes of Dravid, laxman reaching retirement, sachin aging, kumble gone, harbhajan underperforming......................But that doesnt take anything away from the young one day squad...They will come back strong ! England needs to wake up from their dream and fly to the subcontinent and try to win...Winning in your back yard comprehensively is a big thing but that doesnt mean you become world champions (which India already is ! ) :D :D

  • buntyj on September 3, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    yes raina is improved, but still not test class, kohli has decent temperament n mukund resolution but will both gain by a county season as would raina; but the bouncer that struck rohit wasnt wicked or fast or steep and was still enough to hurt him and worse make him publicly wince in an undignified way- he simply doesnt strike me as test class or likely to get there unless india play bd at home on slow low flat deck- rohit may(more than rahane, pujara, raina, kohli or mukund) break laras test high score then. rahul shouldnt have been given out on the evidence before 3rd umpire.

  • spiritwithin on September 3, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    @Basit Dilawaiz,by saying that indian batsman scores heavily only in subcontinent i advice u to check the stats,gambhir still averages 54 outside subcontinent and 46 in asia,dravid averages far more outside subcontinent,sachin has similar performance at subcontinent & away,laxman averages 44 outside subcontinent(just 2 runs below his career average of 46),its only sehwag who struggled with an average of 37 as against his career of 52..other players like kohli,raina r still new to test cricket..only time will tell how other players r but ur comments that indian batsman scores only in subcontinent falls flat..

  • 5wombats on September 3, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    I would like to say to several indian posters - please stop with the history lessons. You may not have noticed - but history hasn't helped you thus far.

  • on September 3, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    Kohli along with all other indian batsmen score heavily in subcontinent. Outside it is a different story altogether. Please stop rating players on their performance in subcontinent.

  • on September 3, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    Well Said @Aditya Batra .Perfectly timed article by u.Every team has their unique problem.If they talk on teams weakness then they will be visible.What England has achieve winning series only in england.Did they ever win in india.But India has already won 3 times in england Story over and many times in india with england.

  • sweetspot on September 3, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    All this hype about Kohli is actually helping Raina. Raina is the quiet one without too much to say but is constantly improving. Both are good for Indian cricket, but Raina is my man for the really tough situations for the next generation. Different roles for both though. Raina should be trusted to finish the job and give the innings later order impetus. Kohli to stay busy at the top or near it. Both kids deserve kudos and encouragement. May they stay positive. Rohit Sharma can play well if he is awake. Who says talent is overrated? Only if you are talented can you work hard to improve performance. You can kick a donkey as much as you want, it won't run like a horse. You have to pick a horse in the first place for a horse race.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on September 3, 2011, 15:39 GMT

    @5wombats, but I thought you and people like me also said that history and tradition is what binds us to Test Cricket ;). All of a sudden this U-TURN from you? et tu brutus.....

  • on September 3, 2011, 14:22 GMT

    @WOMBATS ok, while the english are having its stray day, we'll let them have it. After all its the first time they have gone to no.1 even though they invented the game. Guess history hasn't helped you too much either. We beat you in England last time, whitewashed you in India & will do it again this winter. It was just a one-off series on which you are getting off. Get back to your poor man's version of the Indian Premiere League and try to find 11 ENGLISH men who can play for the country, or else you can continue to import South Africans, Asians (and now New Zealanders) whatever works!

  • on September 3, 2011, 13:52 GMT

    @5wombats - I believe you are an England supporter and obviously have nothing to take from history where your team has been the best at CHOKING and losing and never being no.1 in Tests for atleast 3 decades before now ..SURE you cant look into history....Neither can you look into future cuz its gonna be India All Over World Cricket ;) ;)

  • on September 3, 2011, 13:49 GMT

    One Tour doesn't change anything. Agreed that test team is not going to be very strong with the likes of Dravid, laxman reaching retirement, sachin aging, kumble gone, harbhajan underperforming......................But that doesnt take anything away from the young one day squad...They will come back strong ! England needs to wake up from their dream and fly to the subcontinent and try to win...Winning in your back yard comprehensively is a big thing but that doesnt mean you become world champions (which India already is ! ) :D :D

  • buntyj on September 3, 2011, 12:22 GMT

    yes raina is improved, but still not test class, kohli has decent temperament n mukund resolution but will both gain by a county season as would raina; but the bouncer that struck rohit wasnt wicked or fast or steep and was still enough to hurt him and worse make him publicly wince in an undignified way- he simply doesnt strike me as test class or likely to get there unless india play bd at home on slow low flat deck- rohit may(more than rahane, pujara, raina, kohli or mukund) break laras test high score then. rahul shouldnt have been given out on the evidence before 3rd umpire.

  • spiritwithin on September 3, 2011, 10:30 GMT

    @Basit Dilawaiz,by saying that indian batsman scores heavily only in subcontinent i advice u to check the stats,gambhir still averages 54 outside subcontinent and 46 in asia,dravid averages far more outside subcontinent,sachin has similar performance at subcontinent & away,laxman averages 44 outside subcontinent(just 2 runs below his career average of 46),its only sehwag who struggled with an average of 37 as against his career of 52..other players like kohli,raina r still new to test cricket..only time will tell how other players r but ur comments that indian batsman scores only in subcontinent falls flat..

  • 5wombats on September 3, 2011, 9:52 GMT

    I would like to say to several indian posters - please stop with the history lessons. You may not have noticed - but history hasn't helped you thus far.

  • on September 3, 2011, 9:00 GMT

    Kohli along with all other indian batsmen score heavily in subcontinent. Outside it is a different story altogether. Please stop rating players on their performance in subcontinent.

  • on September 3, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    Well Said @Aditya Batra .Perfectly timed article by u.Every team has their unique problem.If they talk on teams weakness then they will be visible.What England has achieve winning series only in england.Did they ever win in india.But India has already won 3 times in england Story over and many times in india with england.

  • sweetspot on September 3, 2011, 8:46 GMT

    All this hype about Kohli is actually helping Raina. Raina is the quiet one without too much to say but is constantly improving. Both are good for Indian cricket, but Raina is my man for the really tough situations for the next generation. Different roles for both though. Raina should be trusted to finish the job and give the innings later order impetus. Kohli to stay busy at the top or near it. Both kids deserve kudos and encouragement. May they stay positive. Rohit Sharma can play well if he is awake. Who says talent is overrated? Only if you are talented can you work hard to improve performance. You can kick a donkey as much as you want, it won't run like a horse. You have to pick a horse in the first place for a horse race.

  • CAJOSEPH on September 3, 2011, 8:10 GMT

    Dear Nagraj, please do not inflate Kholi's ego. He is yet to prove himself at the international level. He reeks of arrogance and he quickly needs to back up his arrogance with some substatial match winning performances. He has the talent no doubut, but that alone will not take him to the top. Please let the boys truely deserve an article like this...please don't jump the gun. @ Jairam Amrith - if the world cup was a one match affiar it can be called a fluke. It's a gruelling and comprehensive tournament for heavens sake!! After beating Aus, Pak and SL (in the sub continent) in a row ... it's a shame that some people call it a fluke. I know that a lot of people undermine the win because it was at home, but it still needed a lot of effort and class to get past the winning line. If winning at home was so easy, probably you would be playing all home internationals and the Sachin's and Dhoni's of the world would be playing only away from home.

  • 5wombats on September 3, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    @Ivan Joseph; Does he play PLI? If he plays PIL then people who watch ILP might have heard of him. I don't and I haven't. Ignorance is a serious charge - but I'm quite happy to be ignorant of IPL, which, I'm afraid I regard as rubbish. If indians want it, love it, think it's brilliant - then that's a matter for them. If the form of the rest of the team is anything to go by - he's probably overrated, whoever he is.

  • on September 3, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    I think its high time, India should have two teams...Cricketers for Test and Entertainers like Kohli, Raina, Yusuf for Rest...Rahane, Pujara, Dinesh Karthik should be given chances in Test and they should be paid very well...

  • on September 3, 2011, 7:29 GMT

    u r spot on Cidoni Brind. whats the use of writing it??? i think media is warming up for making kohli the next big thing

  • on September 3, 2011, 6:56 GMT

    World cup win was a fluke? How is a WORLD CUP WIN ever a fluke? Its not a one-off match, you compete against all other teams to win the world cup. And if some fool wants to argue that India play well only in India, then same can be said about England. Let them come to India, and each one of you will see how they dance around. Last time, they failed to win anything on the whole tour. And Rohit Sharma has a better technique and is more talented than Virat Kohli? Then I guess Jadeja is a better batsmen than Tendulkar. Idiot! TALENT IS SERIOUSLY OVER-RATED, YOU HAVE TO BACK IT UP WITH CONSISTENCY & PERSEVERANCE. Look at Kohli's average, the kind of innings he has played for India, in situations where India were in shambles. He is a far accomplished player than Raina, Rohit and the group. Its all about performing, he has and will continue to. I dont support him being arrogant, but if he chooses to, he has every right to be, because he has all the goods to back it up!!

  • kasyapm on September 3, 2011, 6:56 GMT

    Nice to hear anything about how the players practice, interact or what they are trying. Enjoyed reading this.

  • Rahulbose on September 3, 2011, 6:47 GMT

    Sounds like all of Indian team spends net sessions worried about how to play the short ball.

  • buntyj on September 3, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    i was a great fan of kohli's temperament ; but he was greatly exposed in windies tests vs short balls by a decent but nothing to shout about pace attack; i dont believe he will be ready for tests without at least a seasons county cricket +club cricket in rsa or aus; selectors favouring wih chances in odi in which short balls restricted may mean that kohli, yuvi, rohit, raina will be contenders for test spots ahead of rahane or pujara; in that case we should be ready to be no 6 in test rankings in 18 months.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on September 3, 2011, 6:02 GMT

    Kohli is arrogance personified. He is vulnerable to genuine pace and short balls. Fidel exposed it ruthlessly. Kohli is over-rated. The last ball of the practice session says it all - that he has thousands of hard miles to do before he can even be talked about as though he is a senior. He's a kiddo to the core, as of now.

  • rustyryan on September 3, 2011, 5:22 GMT

    Haaa.. Kohli's over the moon aggression will bring him down anytime. He's a spoilt kid, jus like Punter in his early stages. At least Punter had the skills to justify his aggression. Kohli would be a big flop in England. Only Rohit looks technically perfect to play any condition. But no idea why the hell he doesn't play up to his potential. The similar kinda player who reminds kohli was Vinod Kambli. We all knew how Kambli ended up his carrier..

  • on September 3, 2011, 4:39 GMT

    Useless article... for Kohli as well as readers....

  • Noboundary on September 3, 2011, 3:26 GMT

    Please stop articles like this! This is how the press spoils many of our budding talents! Wait till our players are able to deliver... then deliver your eulogies!

  • theskeptic on September 3, 2011, 3:19 GMT

    kohli is the "next generation" .... but for worse, for sure! Let him bat in australia, SA and England... and score half as many as he has in the circus cricket before you write him to stardom!!

  • on September 3, 2011, 3:01 GMT

    Such articles will only serve to inflate Kohli's ego. The World Cup win was a fluke and this is going to be proved resoundingly in the coming ODIs.

  • on September 3, 2011, 2:43 GMT

    let the actual game start before you build these guys up...same sort of articles used to appear about Raina...and Yuvraj both are misfits in test cricket....Kohli seems more talented so is Rohit sharma and Pujara.....but hold the praises please

  • on September 3, 2011, 2:37 GMT

    Kohli might be the " next generation ", but he doesn't strike me as a good flowing player as rahane who was able to hit top pacers and also he controlled his shots.

  • on September 3, 2011, 2:27 GMT

    @5wombats - poor ignorant soul.

  • on September 3, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    Kohli has a bright future and should be natured as a future Indian ODI captain. He has all the skills to become a successful player and a captain. He had played several knocks that helped India to win matches. Parthiv Patel should be given another chance in ODI and test matches to show his skills behind the wickets, and Dhoni should be rested for few matches.

  • cooljack_143 on September 3, 2011, 1:42 GMT

    Mr.Gollapudi nice article..Kohli is the next generation.no doubt.

  • Nampally on September 3, 2011, 0:46 GMT

    Kohli should be given the Captaincy of the ODI team. He is more proactive and has leadership qualities including disciplining guys around him. Dhoni should just stick to Test captaincy and learn to be more dynamic. On the eve of the ODI series the guys who are coming in fresh have more confidence than the guys who lost the test series. Kohli, Rahane, Sharma, Aaron, Parthiv and even Jadeja will play with determination to win. It remains to be seen whether this will rub off on Tendulkar, Raina & Dhoni who have been lacking in enthusiasm and gumption. I like to see the Indian team play as a team for once - batsmen producing their best, Bowlers getting wickets and fielders catching & fielding well. Raina, Kohli, Jadeja and Rahane are also good fielders. They need to forget about what happened in the Tests and play like world champions of the ODI as they did not so long back this year. Even though 6 of the regulars are missing this is a good team. Lets go India!.

  • cooljack_143 on September 2, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    Raina Needs to be rested for atleast 2 ODI's, and MS needs to hand over the Gloves o Parthiv..ENG need to see a new Indian look with Rahane,Aaron and Jadeja not the same old team which played in Test cricket.Else it will be boring even for audience to watch as they know what to expect in the result.If all these changes take place there is no reason why India cant win teh series

  • KrishnaIPS on September 2, 2011, 23:49 GMT

    This too much nagraj...Kohli not even a complete product yet.Stop praising for small things.

  • citizenkc on September 2, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    I am not sure why the media are treating Kohli like a senior member. His performance in the WI and England have been mediocre at best. His attitude that Gollapudi seems to like can be seen as at best, overconfident, at worst, arrogant. Where Gollapudi sees his jumping in to bat as an example of "such simple things sometimes do show the hunger within," others may see plain old arrogance. Maybe instead of talking so much, Kohli should watch his seniors and learn from them--not just how to play cricket, but how not to brag. Watch and learn from a Dravid--how to be a cricketer and a gentleman. Let your bat perform at the level of the seniors. Then we can treat you like a senior.

  • landl47 on September 2, 2011, 21:48 GMT

    Nice piece. Kohli has looked pretty good in ODIs so far (not so much in tests) and has some ability. Whether he can turn that into big scores is the question. He'll have a chance over the next five games to make a case for himself.

  • on September 2, 2011, 21:25 GMT

    love hearing that atleast one india player is very intense about his training and is not wasting his time watchin football like dhoni etc hope he does well in chester le street because if he is training like this article says he is then i hope he achieves his dues! his fitness is also the best in the team aswell! thankyou and well done kholi sahib, great to see the hunger and passion of an international cricketer still in some of india players !!

  • 5wombats on September 2, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    I've never heard of him..

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • 5wombats on September 2, 2011, 21:15 GMT

    I've never heard of him..

  • on September 2, 2011, 21:25 GMT

    love hearing that atleast one india player is very intense about his training and is not wasting his time watchin football like dhoni etc hope he does well in chester le street because if he is training like this article says he is then i hope he achieves his dues! his fitness is also the best in the team aswell! thankyou and well done kholi sahib, great to see the hunger and passion of an international cricketer still in some of india players !!

  • landl47 on September 2, 2011, 21:48 GMT

    Nice piece. Kohli has looked pretty good in ODIs so far (not so much in tests) and has some ability. Whether he can turn that into big scores is the question. He'll have a chance over the next five games to make a case for himself.

  • citizenkc on September 2, 2011, 22:08 GMT

    I am not sure why the media are treating Kohli like a senior member. His performance in the WI and England have been mediocre at best. His attitude that Gollapudi seems to like can be seen as at best, overconfident, at worst, arrogant. Where Gollapudi sees his jumping in to bat as an example of "such simple things sometimes do show the hunger within," others may see plain old arrogance. Maybe instead of talking so much, Kohli should watch his seniors and learn from them--not just how to play cricket, but how not to brag. Watch and learn from a Dravid--how to be a cricketer and a gentleman. Let your bat perform at the level of the seniors. Then we can treat you like a senior.

  • KrishnaIPS on September 2, 2011, 23:49 GMT

    This too much nagraj...Kohli not even a complete product yet.Stop praising for small things.

  • cooljack_143 on September 2, 2011, 23:53 GMT

    Raina Needs to be rested for atleast 2 ODI's, and MS needs to hand over the Gloves o Parthiv..ENG need to see a new Indian look with Rahane,Aaron and Jadeja not the same old team which played in Test cricket.Else it will be boring even for audience to watch as they know what to expect in the result.If all these changes take place there is no reason why India cant win teh series

  • Nampally on September 3, 2011, 0:46 GMT

    Kohli should be given the Captaincy of the ODI team. He is more proactive and has leadership qualities including disciplining guys around him. Dhoni should just stick to Test captaincy and learn to be more dynamic. On the eve of the ODI series the guys who are coming in fresh have more confidence than the guys who lost the test series. Kohli, Rahane, Sharma, Aaron, Parthiv and even Jadeja will play with determination to win. It remains to be seen whether this will rub off on Tendulkar, Raina & Dhoni who have been lacking in enthusiasm and gumption. I like to see the Indian team play as a team for once - batsmen producing their best, Bowlers getting wickets and fielders catching & fielding well. Raina, Kohli, Jadeja and Rahane are also good fielders. They need to forget about what happened in the Tests and play like world champions of the ODI as they did not so long back this year. Even though 6 of the regulars are missing this is a good team. Lets go India!.

  • cooljack_143 on September 3, 2011, 1:42 GMT

    Mr.Gollapudi nice article..Kohli is the next generation.no doubt.

  • on September 3, 2011, 2:25 GMT

    Kohli has a bright future and should be natured as a future Indian ODI captain. He has all the skills to become a successful player and a captain. He had played several knocks that helped India to win matches. Parthiv Patel should be given another chance in ODI and test matches to show his skills behind the wickets, and Dhoni should be rested for few matches.

  • on September 3, 2011, 2:27 GMT

    @5wombats - poor ignorant soul.