Virat Kohli in his short career as the test skipper of India has done a commendable job. Kohli is the perfect test leader, who stringently believes in leading from the front and making the best use of aggression. That was evident in his very first test as a captain at the Adelaide Oval against Australia, where he played one of the finest test knocks in the 4th innings of the test. Kohli, in a recent interview to Cricbuzz also said that captains should be willing to lose, if they want to win test matches at any given costs. The Indian test skipper was at his best when he gave the interview.
Below, is the interview, which Virat Kohli gave to Cricbuzz:
It seems that you’ve consciously made an effort to change the brand of cricket India is playing into a lot more aggressive one. Why did you want to do that?
Well, I’m not saying that we change the way we play, but what we mean is being aggressive in those pressure situations where sometimes you tend to be conservative and the game can be taken away from you. We are consciously making an effort to give the guys more belief to go out there and express themselves. Because, that is the only way you can counter a situation.
Did something that you see influence the way you want to do it?
We figured out why we are not able to capitalize on situations, from winning situations and actually winning Test matches. We thought about it, we sat down and figured out that maybe we are thinking of blocking too many balls and making Test cricket too difficult in our own heads and not actually going out there and playing the situation. Even in Test cricket people nowadays are scoring at strike-rates of 70, 75. That’s how you win matches.
So, we figured out it is important to release that pressure and tell the guys to actually go out there. Because, if you are going to defend in a particular situation, for example if you are chasing a target and you defend all day while looking to chase it, teams usually crumble in a session or two. So, once you take a situation positively, that’s when you are right in the game and you’re actually challenging an opposition to get on with the game as well.
What does a draw (in a Test) mean to you? Will you have that as the last option?
Yeah. Definitely. Draw is the last option. You have to risk losing to win Test matches.
Does everyone in the team subscribe to it?
Everyone (in the Indian team) follows it (risk losing to win Test matches). Everyone wants to win. There is no difference in terms of being on the same page. So everyone believes it. You can see it in the way we are playing cricket at the moment. Everyone is eager and hungry to perform. Even in the second innings, we are taking on bowlers and setting up targets.
It is a bit of a slippery slope? Risking a loss for a win when a draw is a viable option.
See, it is as similar to people saying that ‘you are never far away from a good innings.’ You have to back yourself to go out and play, you don’t stop playing your shots. If you get out to a cover drive, it doesn’t mean that you stop your cover drive for life. So, if as a batsman I say that I get out in three innings, I know that one innings is not far away. And, if I can get that one innings, I can make it six or seven consecutive scores.
So, I think being positive is very important. We actually want to play in a certain manner and depending on that, you will have losses because you are going for victories. You have to risk that. But, once you get a taste of winning and once you get that habit, with this kind of a mindset it is very difficult for oppositions to stop eleven players who are going for a win in all stages.
Do you have any role models for captaincy?
I don’t have any captaincy role models to be very honest. I don’t believe that a captain is someone very different from someone in the team. It is just that I have been given an opportunity to make decisions on the field. And that’s all I see of it. Everyone in the team is a captain in his own way because they are all thinking cricketers and they have cricketing brains. I don’t come with anything too different from what the other guys say.
The only thing is that, you have to have a strong character to be a good captain, I suppose. You need to have a lot of belief as to what you want to do as a team, firstly and then in your decision making. There will be a lot of positives and negatives. You just have to put them aside and actually believe in your own instinct and your own gut to go with your decisions.
Any captaincy advice that has helped or anything that you’ve learned so far, as a captain?
One thing that I’ve learned so far in whatever teams that I have led is to understand your players. For a captain, (it is important to know) how you manage your players, how you handle your players. Someone might need a different way of (being handled). Someone might be in a different state of mind at a certain stage. So, how to talk to him, how to pull him up? If a guy is going through a good phase, talking less to him is better. These things I think are very, very important for a captain.
As I said, decision making on the field, all eleven guys are intelligent players and you will have advice coming in from all directions, but this (man-management) I think, for me, is the most important aspect.
Skills, fitness, strategy, mental strength. Order of priority?
1. Mental strength