I was in denial about my vulnerability, frustration was creeping in: In-form Kohli recalls prolonged lean patch

PTI, Jan 11, 2023, 1:04 PM IST

A remarkably eloquent Virat Kohli admitted being in complete denial about his ”vulnerabilities” and ”frustrations” during his poor run of form, which in turn also made him ”cranky” and ”snappy” with his family and friends.

Kohli smashed his 45th ODI hundred, a 87-ball 113, to guide India to a 67-run win over Sri Lanka in the opening game here on Tuesday.

The 34-year-old batter had scored an identical 113 against Bangladesh in his final ODI of 2022 and has now 73 international hundreds with the last three coming in a space of four months after a near three year lull.

”In my case, in denial, frustration was creeping in. I was very cranky, very snappy in my space. It was not fair on (wife) Anushka (Sharma), my closed ones, its not fair on the people who support you. So I had to take responsibility and kind of put things in perspective,” Kohli told teammate Suryakumar Yadav in an interview for bcci.tv.

Kohli reiterated the need to be away from his primary passion in order to rekindle it and feel hungry once again.

”I was far off from my cricket. My attachments, my desire, had totally taken over. That’s when I realised that I can’t be away from who I am. I have to be true to myself. Even when I am vulnerable, I am not playing well, I am the worst player around, I have to accept it. I can’t be in denial,” Kohli admitted his frailties.

In fact, he had a word of advice for Surya, who is in the form of his life as far as T20Is are concerned.

”Sometimes what happens, you (Surya) will also experience it as you play more and more now, people look at you differently. When Surya goes out to play, people will say that Surya will do it. To keep up with it is an intense process,” he told his junior colleague about the weight of expectations that he has carried for more than a decade now.

One only realises the downside when form deserts a player, said Kohli.

”When your cricket is going well, all these things flow well but whenever there is a slight dip, in my case, frustration started creeping in because I wanted to play in a certain way but my cricket was not allowing me to play like before.” Kohli said that he would like to build on his good form having started the new year with a hundred.

”I am just happy… in the last two years I didn’t have such a start,” Kohli said.

”It was the first match of the year and I got a century, so hopefully, I can build on this because it is also a World Cup year and there is a big Test series coming against Australia.

”When you score runs in any match, it gives you confidence. I am happy I was able to almost bat through the innings, to give the team 20-30 extra runs with dew coming in. I am just happy and excited to play.” Kohli stressed on the need to get away and comeback refreshed, an approach that has helped him get rejuvenated.

”Sometimes your mindset goes up and down when you play so much, but keeping that mental freshness is helping me.” The former India skipper had endured an extended lean patch for last few years and also took a month off from the game last year before returning to score his first hundred in 1020 days in September against Afghanistan in T20 Asia Cup.

Kohli continued his magnificent run in the T20 World Cup in Australia, scoring 205 runs to be named the ICC Men’s Player of the ‘Month for October’. He then smashed his 44th ODI hundred in December last year.

”When I returned relaxed in Asia Cup, I started enjoying training again, which is how I have always played cricket,” he said.

So I would say that if you feel even a bit of desperation then take two steps back, rather pushing more and more because it will only go away from you.”

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