Kohli's 'aggressive' response fails to break duck
Virat Kohli's English summer of discontent is not over. His duck in Cardiff was the third on this tour after he failed to open his account twice during the five-match Test series. But his latest failure is likely to ring loud in Kohili's ears considering just before the start of play he had said that he was ready to "express" himself and "play aggressive" during the ODI series. Kohli said that it was a format where he felt comfortable and was confident that India could bounce back after the 3-1 defeat Test series.
"The Test series was a bit difficult. In a five-game series when you don't get going and you keep getting out, it is pretty difficult to comeback," Kohli told the former England batsman Nick Knight in an interview with Sky Sports. "We got a few days off, had a good practice game, got a few runs there. This format has always been where I express myself, don't think too much, don't pressurize myself too much. Just going to go out there, I back myself and play some aggressive cricket."
True to his word Kohli charged Chris Woakes, facing just his third ball, and drilled a drive straight into the hands of England captain Alastair Cook, who accepted the gift with a warm smile at mid-off. Even Kohli might admit that it was too much, too soon considering Shikhar Dhawan had departed earlier in the same over.
During the pre-match interview Kohli had been all bravado. Much maligned for his performance during the Pataudi Trophy where he had an aggregate of 139 runs from 10 innings, with a highest score of 39, Kohli said the change of formats was a good cure for his struggles.
"It is very easy to connect the two, but as a professional cricketer you have got to separate different formats and start afresh every game and every series. You have got to forget what has happened and try to play the best cricket you can in whatever is coming your way."
Kohli added that despite the failures of the Indian batsmen, they were now better equipped to deal with the challenges during the ODI series, reduced to four matches after the Bristol game was washed out on Monday. He also said having won the Champions Trophy last year in England gave the team an extra bit of confidence.
"Having been here for a month-and-a-half obviously helps a lot as well. What areas to hit when you are batting and bowling. We are going to be better prepared than we were in Champions Trophy. That was probably one of our best performances, [where we] surprised everyone. I hope we can play according to the conditions and whatever is thrown at us."
Despite being just 25 years old, Kohli has registered 19 ODI centuries, and is a close third behind the South African pair of Hashim Amla and AB de Villiers on the ICC rankings in the 50-over format. He is already the third-highest century-maker for India, after Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly (only three behind Ganguly) and it has taken Kohli only six years to get there.
When Knight pointed out the feat Kohli, modest yet proud, said that he had worked hard and committed to a plan which made him climb to the heights only a few great batsmen have reached.
"It is quite surreal when I sit back and think about it. I didn't expect myself to be here so early. I have worked hard. Things have come my way and I have grabbed the opportunities that have come my way," he said. "The thing I look to do is win the game for the team till the end. And that is why I have gone on to make the three-figure mark more than a few occasions because I want to make the team win. It is not about me scoring a hundred. It is about making sure the team crosses the line or when I am batting first making sure the team gets a decent total on the board. So I look to bat throughout. That has been my strength."
On this occasion, however, that strength proved his downfall.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo