Since taking over the reins as Test captain, Virat Kohli has consistently favoured a five-bowler strategy, signalling a result-orientated mindset and a willingness to place greater responsibility on the top five batsmen. On the first two days of the ongoing Antigua Test, Kohli showed what it meant to shoulder that responsibility by shoring up a line-up that had wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha listed at No. 6 with his maiden first-class double-hundred.
"Playing five batsmen is a bit of an added pressure on the batsmen but that is what we want to take up as a challenge," Kohli told bcci.tv, after his 200 led India to 566 for 8 in the first innings against West Indies. "The batsmen decided to take up the responsibility. As captain, I would never ask the players to do what I cannot do myself first."
On a sluggish pitch, the onus on the batsmen was not only to score, but to score fast enough to give the bowlers time to take 20 wickets. Kohli was the only one to take up this dual responsibility. He stayed in and scored big, while also displaying a positive, busy approach that was missing in many of his colleagues. He finished with a strike rate of 70.
"I backed myself to be positive, backed myself to score quickly because I knew if we had to bowl the opposition out, we need enough time for the bowlers to be fresh again and also have breaks in between," Kohli said. "I had decided in the change room that I am going to go out there, be positive and show intent, and the runs started flowing."
Kohli also spoke of the differences between his mindset in the dressing room and in the middle, and said he was "at peace" most while batting. "When you are in the change room, you're interacting with people, you get to know what people are saying and what people close to you expect from you. I think those are the things that give pressure.
"When I go out to bat, I am all by myself and my batting partner. People don't understand that I am actually at a lot of peace when I am batting alone out there because I don't have to interact with too many people and don't have to listen to their expectations or know what they require of me. I can literally reflect on myself, understand what my thoughts and mood are and then work on those things. That is why I always prefer being out there in the middle than getting to know these things from people."
Kohli's 200 was also the first double-century by an India captain away from home, five years after he made his Test debut in the Caribbean.
"I made my debut here and it wasn't a memorable series for me. Coming back here and getting a double-hundred gives me a lot of satisfaction, purely because of the fact that I have missed a couple of big scores in the past. I know I have the ability to get big hundreds. This is my first double-hundred in first-class matches in general, so this is something I always wanted to do and I am feeling really grateful today that I was able to cross the mark."