India v England, 4th Test, Nagpur, 3rd day December 15, 2012

Kohli takes pride in 'learning innings'


Early this year, Virat Kohli scored a scarcely believable 133 off 86 to help India chase 321 in 36.4 overs. In his last Test innings of the year, Kohli showed the other side of his batting by scoring 103 off 295 balls. These two completely different innings have proved he is India's player of the year and their impact has been similar.

The first innings - a blazing century in Hobart which kept India alive in the CB Series only for Sri Lanka to crush their hopes two days later - showed Kolhi the power of a free mind with nothing to lose.

This latest hundred has emphasised what can be achieved through patience, an innings which has kept India alive in the series, even if the state of a slow and low pitch suggests that England are likely to crush India's hopes again.

Kohli, though, is wiser after the effort. "I didn't think about the runs, I didn't think about the number of balls I was playing, I was just batting," he said. "You just keep batting, you just keep watching the ball and eventually you get the right results. I was pretty pleased to bat for long hours in this game and that is something you will need to do in future in Test matches. It was a learning innings for me."

What had been going wrong earlier in the series then? "Three times I got 20," he said. "I probably got a good ball in Ahmedabad in the first innings, and I made a few mistakes after that. Sometimes you need that bit of luck, you get beaten and then sometimes you know today is the right day and you put your foot down and concentrate for long hours.

"I was waiting for this one innings, I was not doubting myself at all. I was working hard for the last one month and eventually if you keep working hard these little things happen in cricket."

Kohli said he and MS Dhoni, who scored 99, had to stay patient. "It was challenging for both of us," he said. "It was a slowish wicket, not that easy to get the ball away. I had to show some patience and I just thought of applying myself and not think of anything else. It was all about showing patience and just watching the ball and reacting to it rather than thinking about what we are going to be at the end of the day or the end of the session."

Not thinking about where they will be at the end of the day actually put them on the path to a strong position, but a mix of slow run rate - that can't be helped because of the slow pitch - and late wickets relinquished that position. India still see a way to win, though, said Kohli.

"You get some runs' lead and you put the opposition under pressure," he said. "It won't be easy to defend all day. That is not something you can do every Test match. We will just be looking for the one opening and probably get two-three wickets and you never know where the game goes from there."

India, 2-1 down in the series, still trail by 33, and will need all the help from the pitch and England to bowl the opposition out in four sessions at most, and then chase the total down. The pitch has given the bowlers nothing at all. Kohli said that can change.

"The wicket hasn't changed much," he said, "but I think the cracks are opening up slowly so you might see a completely different wicket tomorrow. The spinners might come into play a bit more. This is kind of wicket where you need to apply yourself the whole time, you just can't relax."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Par on December 17, 2012, 0:33 GMT

    learn also how to respect the opponent, be a sport not a sulk and sop intimidating umpires. Then come back and say learn something. Oh btw when you become captain (you will one day, after all you have the swagger/ attitude (bad)/ ODI/t20 runs under ur belt) make sure when you are playing those boring test series and if you are down 2-1 playing last game of the series and on a 4th day still trying to equal opposition score: TRy to push the scoring rate, you know in such situations, opposition tends to sit back and not spread field for easy 4s. Just a tip buddy. goodluck with IPL etc

  • Owen on December 16, 2012, 10:05 GMT

    @Nish - well said, I can't remember who it was yesterday on one of the comments boards, but someone suggested that Kohli and Dhoni would get out shortly after their hundreds, showing their character. Well as talented as Kholi is, the fact that he switched off before he had done what his team needed him to do speak volumes. If he can start playing for his team more, rather than himself he will be a fantastic player.

  • Ahsan on December 16, 2012, 8:37 GMT

    I read a couple of comments here accusing Kohli of being relaxed. It is not prudent to question his commitment, just because he got out in the 20's 2-3 times or just after a century. You don't know how much hard effort he puts in to be where he is right now. Only people behind the scenes can know that, you guys have no right of saying things like that like I think he got relaxed. How can you think like that? What gave you such an idea? Did he tell you himself? Kohli on the face looks very aggressive and swaggering and stylish, but that doesn't mean that he doesn't work hard. Some bad innings and people were asking him to be dropped from the test side? Ridiculous. Wake up people, he is the future, how many chances has he got at test level? If you want to drop someone then drop Dhoni, or Gambuir, or maybe even Ishant Sharma

  • Dummy4 on December 16, 2012, 6:07 GMT

    I think there were a lot of naysayers about Kohli just being a flat track bully/ODI player..He is very talented and will have a good test career..I have no worries about the future of Indian batting..We have Rahane/Tiwary/Kohli and lot of other guys on the fringes..

    Bowling strength is the real issue, but we need to be more patient with our bowlers than our batsmen..we will be a decent test side in 3 years time if the BCCI show some long term vision by breeding the younsters

  • raj on December 16, 2012, 5:02 GMT

    Congrats Kohli - a player like him can win matches for India because he can score quickly when required. India also need to select Rehane ASAP - picking Jadeja ahead of him would have really damaged his confidence. I suspect REHANE IS THE NEW BADRINATH!!

  • Nish on December 16, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    Comparing the celebrations of Joe Root vs Virat Kohli on reaching an individual milestone- tells the entire story

    Kohli you have lots to learn from Joe.

  • Nish on December 16, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    The job is not done at reaching 50 or 100 or 150, the job begins once you even the first innings that sense there is little to celebrate and talk about

  • Nish on December 16, 2012, 2:56 GMT

    You have not learned anything - until you learn to put the team above your personal milestone

  • Nish on December 16, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    good Job Kohli - But I am really disappointed to see you relax and get out as soon as you reached the personal landmark.

  • Yarman on December 16, 2012, 1:44 GMT

    Well done boys. First time in the series I see true grit. it was unfortunate that a moment of madness robbed MS a well deserved ton. It would have been good to have him and Ash at the crease at stumps. In a case a lead how ever small would be an advantage . Good luck!

  • No featured comments at the moment.