India’s former captain Virat Kohli opened up on his time as India’s captain and his career in a recent podcast hosted by comedian Danish Sait. Virat Kohli stepped down as India’s captain last year after differences emerged between the star and the BCCI, leading to the appointment of Rohit Sharma as Team India’s captain across all three formats.
The right-handed batsman is widely considered to be one of the finest players to grace the game, and his time at the helm saw India becoming the dominant force in Test cricket around the globe. But India’s failure to lift even a single major ICC Trophy during Virat Kohli’s tenure as captain will remain a black mark on an otherwise stellar record in his career.
Team Bangalore released the podcast this week as the hype for the 2023 edition of the Indian T20 League builds up, and the interview was an opportunity for fans to see a rare unfiltered version of Virat Kohli. Here are all the sensational headlines made by the legend during the interview:
‘Was Considered A Failed Captain’
One recurring theme when evaluating Virat Kohli’s tenure as captain of the Indian team is the absence of any ICC trophies in the cabinet, despite the team winning many bilateral series in all formats of the game. When asked about this, Virat Kohli mentioned that he was considered a ‘failed captain’ after just three or four ICC tournaments despite the team managing to reach the semi-finals or final of every tournament.
“Look, you play to win tournaments. I captained in the Champions Trophy in 2017, the 2019 World Cup, I captained in the World Test Championship, and T20 World Cup in 2021. After three ICC tournaments, I was considered a failed captain.”
He further elaborated that his goal with Team India was never to win trophies but to develop a winning culture in the team. In fact, it is widely acknowledged that Team India became a dominant force in world cricket during his tenure, becoming fearless and entering into tournaments even in overseas conditions. India’s victory in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2021 in Australia is the ultimate proof of this, with the team’s fearless approach earning them rich dividends. Virat Kohli stated that this was his source of pride.
‘Dhoni Was The Only Person To Reach Out To Me’
The relationship between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli has always been cordial, with both stalwarts forming the leadership group of the Indian team for much of the last decade. Opening up about his relationship with the World Cup-winning captain, Virat Kohli acknowledged him to be a mentor and the only person to reach out to him when he was going through difficult times.
“The only person who, apart from my childhood coach and family…genuinely reached out to me has been MS Dhoni. He reached out to me and you can rarely get in touch with him.”
He further elaborated that as India’s captain, he was expected to be confident and mentally strong by everyone, but had to take a couple of steps backwards at certain points in his career to reevaluate himself. Virat Kohli further stated that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is one man who he could rely on as the former captain could understand and relate to his experience, as he has been there himself in the past.
On His Redemption Arc In England
Virat Kohli’s epic failure with the bat in England in 2014 and the subsequent redemption arc in the 2018 tour are memorable to every Indian fan. Opening up about his experience during the tours, Virat Kohli said that during the 2014 tour, he focussed on his individual performance rather than contributing to his team’s victory – a strategy that failed to deliver the results for him.
“When we went to England in 2014, I thought I needed to prove myself here but I was wrong in the first place. Because I went there to prove something that I can play in these conditions and not go there to kind of make my team win, that wasn’t my focal point.”
But in 2018, when India toured England, Virat Kohli was met with boos by thousands of English fans. He was considered to be the best batsman on the planet by then, and the fortunes of Team India depended on their captain. Virat Kohli completed his redemption arc by scoring 593 runs at an average of 59.30 in the five-match series, including two hundreds and three fifties.
“There are a lot of things that went right. So much weight was lifted from my shoulder.”
When he walked back after scoring 149 runs in the first Test at Edgbaston, the same crowd which booed him gave him a standing ovation.
Australia Tour The Career-Changing Moment
Virat Kohli credited the 2012 tour of Australia as the defining moment of his career. The tough conditions Down Under meant that no Indian team yet won a series there, and the prospects of players are decided based on their performances in the series. Virat Kohli was already an integral part of India’s ODI setup by 2012, winning the ODI World Cup under Mahendra Singh Dhoni. But his inclusion in the Test team was still considered a hit-or-miss, with the youngster required to prove his abilities to retain his place in the side.
“We were in Australia, and I remember, those two Test matches had gone horribly wrong… I knew that if I don’t perform, there’s no chance that I’m going to play the fourth and probably have to go back to first-class cricket and find my way up again.”
Australia won the series in an emphatic manner under the captaincy of Michael Clarke, whitewashing the series 4-0. But Virat Kohli shone for India with the bat, scoring 300 runs for the team to become the team’s top-scorer during the tournament. This tournament would also be the starting point for the transformation in the fitness of India’s players, pioneered by Virat Kohli and later standardised using the Yo-Yo test for all players.
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