Virat Kohli's nine-ball buy-in shows India's new path is here to stay

Virat Kohli’s nine-ball buy-in shows India’s new path is here to stay

Virat Kohli played nine balls in two innings in this T20I series against England. He tried to demarcate five of them. Two of them resulted in vintage limits from Kohli – a four over wide in the middle and a six straight down, but the other three knocked him out twice. Considering Kohli’s T20 career, it may be true that this isn’t the best approach for him.

However, Kohli does not play in isolation. It beats in the top order of India. It’s up to them to take risks and score quickly themselves or let those behind them face more balls. That’s the approach this team wants everyone to take, and Kohli is no exception.

“It’s a bit of both”, the captain of India Rohit Sharma said, when asked if Kohli’s ultra-aggressive new approach was a team instruction or a personal attempt to get out of a rut. “We as a team want to play a certain way, and every player has to buy into that thought process. Otherwise, you know, it’s not going to happen for you. And all the players, all the hitters , who are on this team, are willing to take that extra risk and see what more they can do with the bat.

“It’s important to discover in yourself, you know, to try to do different kinds of things. Unless you try it, you can never discover it. [what you are capable of]. So I think that’s something we’ve been trying to do for a while now. Some days it can happen, others it doesn’t. But we don’t want to be afraid to go in and take that extra risk. That’s how we’re going to learn as a team and that’s how we’re going to move forward as a team. So it’s in everyone’s thought process, everyone is pretty comfortable with that idea. So yes, that’s the kind of direction the team will move in.”

For years, India played the T20s like a shortened ODI, taking risks by beating first only when they were behind in the series or in games to be won. But this new direction is slowly slipping into revolutionary ideas, like wanting to play the ODIs as an extension of the T20Is. He left observers very impressed. Eoin Morganwho played a vital role in England’s white-ball revolution, found India’s new attitude to risk “incredibly impressive”. Nasser Hussein believes that India should be in the final of every white ball tournament, given their quality.

“It’s important for us to understand white ball cricket well,” said Rohit, disagreeing with the idea that the next ODI series will be less of a priority for India in a T20 World Cup year. “I mean 50-over cricket is an extension of T20 cricket. You might take a little less risk than you do in T20s, but we have take risks. It’s not like we don’t take risks.

“We have to get used to playing free. When you try to play free, it comes with failures both in individual performance and in team results, but you learn a lot. We look at the situation in its whole, not the small picture. In fact, in India, we are used to two and a half hour pictures. All these matches are crucial for us because somewhere we have to change something, and we can see that things started to change slightly.

“The biggest lesson of this series has been the approach of every individual who has played in this series for us. How they came in and savored the moment in the middle, seizing the opportunity, taking on the opposition, taking that extra Mindset is something that we’re trying to change, and they’re willing to do that. They’re willing to take that risk. And when I go and talk to some people, I hear the same kind of response from their go. “

One of the main reasons for not playing freely, overvaluing your wicket, is insecurity due to intense competition for slot machines. If management want their players to reach their full potential, there can be no room for mixed messages. That’s why we don’t expect Kohli to be penalized for going out and trying to do what the team expects of him. So all the pressure building up from the outside – look at Kapil Dev’s comments, Virender Sehwag’s tweet and Venkatesh Prasad’s tweet too – shouldn’t change their view on Kohli.

“I don’t know who the pundits are,” Rohit said, when asked if he was in an awkward position given Kohli’s lack of races and the pundits calling for his retirement. “I don’t even understand why they’re called experts. They look at it from the outside, they don’t know what’s going on inside. We’re building a team. There’s a lot of deliberation behind it. There’s a lot The boys are supported The boys have chances People on the outside don’t know all these things It doesn’t matter what’s going on outside.

“If you talk about form, it goes up and down for everyone. The quality of a player never goes down. We should remember that. And we support that quality, and support them based on their quality. That’s happened with me, it happened with XYZ, it happened to everyone, it’s nothing new When a player has done so consistently well for so long, it can’t be undone in one or two series or in one or two years. It takes time for people to fully understand it, but those who lead the team know the importance of this quality.

However, that doesn’t mean it will be easy for Kohli to once again become the central figure on the T20I team that he was, as other hitters have made their request while Kohli has been away. Deepak Hooda scored a hundred in Ireland before scoring a smooth 33 in the opener of this series. Suryakumar Yadav delighted everyone with his hundred in the T20I final. Like Suryakumar, Hardik Pandya, also, sealed a spot now that his fitness is in order. Once KL Rahul comes back, someone will have made room for him. And these young people will all benefit from similar support. There is no room for mixed messages.

“The captain, the coach, the selector, they all have a role,” Rohit said. “Because if we do one thing and the coaches do something else, it won’t work. It’s important that those who build the team are on the same page. These boys have to have freedom. That’s It is very important to continue to constantly send them the message to play with freedom, because they are very talented and this talent will only be used if we give them this freedom.

“We’ve seen some boys play under pressure. We don’t want them to play under pressure. If they play with that freedom, they’ll do better than they expect of themselves. You’ve seen an example today [Suryakumar]saw another in Ireland [Hooda]. I will not take names. This is how boys emerge. It is important to let them know what we expect of them as team management. This message must be consistent. If you say something today, something else tomorrow, it won’t work.”

Sidharth Monga is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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