Kohli lauds Dhoni special
It is not often a Virat Kohli century can be outshone or overshadowed. At its best, it is usually an exquisite construction of beauty, timing, balance and precision. But given that his captain had taken ownership of an entire day with an innings of utter dominance, Kohli fittingly opened his media interaction with a statement before taking questions. "First I'll speak on the captain's innings," he said.
He called M S Dhoni's 206 not out, "a great display of batting" in "temperament, hitting the ball cleanly and assessing the situation." When asked whether No. 6 was an ideal batting position for Dhoni going into the future, he said it "might be the trick that will work with the batting order for us."
Kohli did say he had not seen him batting at No. 6 often. He said Dhoni at No. 7 spot doesn't have enough time to get big runs. "People started doubting his Test batting, because he wasn't getting ample opportunities. If the team is five down, you have to negotiate the pressure, then you expect the guy to get a hundred every four games. It's pretty difficult."
The No. 6 position would give Dhoni, Kohli said, "ample opportunity to get settled and analyse the situation. Once he's settled, he is one of the most experienced guys to play with the lower order, he knows how to play with the tail. So yes, that's a huge difference he could make at No. 6 going ahead in Test matches."
Kohli said it was easier to maintain the tempo of an innings like today in ODIs where he had seen Dhoni score 183 against Sri Lanka batting at No. 3. "It's very easy to go for your shots in one-dayers. You don't have to think too much when you're in that kind of flow. But [in Tests] to actually analyse the situation, to play with the tailender, to take strike when wanted, to defend when wanted, hit the ball when needed… in Test matches it's not easy to bat with the lower order and to get a double hundred is a commendable thing."
Kohli said India had played the day much like they had planned it. They had expected Australia to use reverse swing with the old ball in the first session. "Pattinson was bowling really well with the old ball, reversing at pace. We decided to give respect to the bowlers bowing well. We knew if we batted the whole day, we'll have a considerable lead and we'll be in a great position in this Test. It was all about giving respect to good bowling and capitalising later on loose deliveries which MS and I were able to do."
Dhoni, he said had come out to bat with a clear idea about his approach. "He didn't want to talk about the game, he didn't want to talk about cricket. He said just talk about something else to me." His instructions to Kohli were simple: "Don't ask about how the wicket was, how the bowling was, nothing. He was pretty relaxed and calm so he didn't want to talk a lot about the game. He was pretty sure what he wanted to do out in the middle."
Australia paid heavily going in with a single specialist spinner, Kohli said, as the wicket had begun to break on day three. After it had "evened out and eased up" on day two, he got one ball from Nathan Lyon shooting under his bat and the other hitting him on the chest. "I was pretty surprised with how quickly the wicket was coming off. If they [Australia] had more slow bowlers in the team you would have seen the difference of that wicket. The spinners are going to get a lot of turn and bounce tomorrow with the hard ball. That's going to be the crucial thing - the wicket is getting roughed up by the day."
Speaking of his own batting, Kohli said he had been disappointed to get out soon after his hundred and called it, "this block I am facing - when I get 100 I get out." He said, "As a batsman you would love to get big runs when you've scored century from a tough situation, you don't want to throw it away." His dismissal today - caught at mid-on by Mitchell Starc off Lyon - came because he got too close to the ball.
"I was disappointed I got out. But I knew I wanted to go for that shot, so I went for it hundred percent. But I got too close to the ball and just didn't get the elevation. But next time you can only learn from mistakes. I'll try and erase all these errors that I have been doing after getting centuries."
Kohli said the century, the fourth of his Test career, had brought him extra pleasure as it followed a poor run against England and Pakistan. He had taken time away from the game to get ready for Australia. "Sometimes you just need to get away from the game and get your mind fresh and get back on track. I was feeling hungry for this series. I was eagerly waiting to get into the field and bat and feeling that is important for a cricketer."