Important to want to hit the short ball - Kohli
If India's batsmen need advice in tackling the short ball, they can get it from their team-mate who cracked 123 off 111 in his first international innings in New Zealand, in the first ODI in Napier. Before the second match in Hamilton, Virat Kohli said that it was important to want to hit the short ball in order to get into a good position to do so, while elaborating on his approach.
New Zealand had made it clear before the series started that they planned to target the Indians with pace and bounce, especially on faster pitches, and four of India's top six subsequently fell to the short ball in Napier. Kohli said that as international batsmen, the Indians needed to be technically and physically better equipped to deal with that.
"It's a very personal choice of any team, what sort of plan they want to come up with against us," Kohli said. "I think a lot of teams have tried to bounce us out but that hasn't been the case for the longest time that I have seen. Mostly the bouncer is a plan to set you up for the next ball to nick you off. A bouncer is never to scare you away, it is just to put in the batsman's head that there might be a short ball coming, another one, because you have two in the over now.
"I think as international cricketers, we have got to be good enough to stand up to that challenge and be fit enough to actually react to those deliveries. That's where your fitness counts as well. If you are not fit enough, you might not have the reflexes to actually tackle a ball thrown at 150 kmph and you might be totally exposed or found in a very uncomfortable spot. As I said, we should be prepared to face anything. If it is a seaming wicket, if they are trying to nick us off, then we should be technically correct to tackle that. If they are trying to bounce us out, we should be technically correct to leave the ball or, if confident, pull the ball."
Detailing his own methods, Kohli said one could either strike or leave a bouncer in the end, but it was important to be balanced and set up to play the initial shot.
"I think even to leave the ball on a bouncer, it is very important to want to hit the ball. If you are looking to leave the ball, your weight is already on the back foot and then you are in no position to leave or hit the ball. If you are looking to hit the ball, you take your body forwards and then you can be balanced enough to duck under it. I think that is one key aspect that a lot of people mistake.
"If you are looking to leave the ball, then more often than not you will get hit on the glove or the helmet. If I am looking to hit the ball, then I can get under the ball much better, I have much better balance because my body is going forward. I have a good base to duck under the ball.
Kohli said he preferred to pull rather than hook, and that too in front of square, a strategy he said gave him more control. "Even if I am not ducking, if I have a good base, then I have confidence to actually pull the ball and I look to hit it in front of square. I hardly look to hook the ball unless it is on my body, so it gives me more control. It gives you that extra half a second because you know you have to hit the ball in front of square, so you have to be quick enough to do that. You have to be quick enough to tackle the ball coming at 140."
Having a clear mind was also crucial, Kohli said. Completely backing whatever he decided to do with a particular delivery, and doing it wholeheartedly, was something he said he had picked up in South Africa.
"One thing I learnt in South Africa was when you are batting, whatever you are doing, you need to commit to it fully," he said. "Because people are bowling at you at 140-145 kph, there is not much time to decide and think later on, after the ball is bowled. Whatever you want to do, you got to read the length and commit to the shot. If you want to leave the ball, you have got to commit to that."
Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo