Captain Kohli shows how it’s done


From the moment Virat Kohli addressed the media in Bengaluru before the team took off on their tour to West Indies, to the time the first Test in Antigua commenced, the Indian captain has stressed on a number of occasions on the importance of batsmen not losing their concentration just before or after breaks in a Test match.”Sometimes, we have in the past, lost patience and played shots at important times. Just before or breaks (lunch, tea or drinks break). And those are important moments in the game. So, we have identified that, that we need to get stronger there, because if you start off well in a session, then more often than not you’ll be able to capitalise, but if you lose wickets early, then more often than not you’re playing catch-up cricket throughout the session,” he had said in Bengaluru, sitting beside Anil Kumble, the newly-appointed head coach.”We have discussed a lot after Australia, we have felt that [during] lunch breaks and tea breaks we were losing a lot of wickets. It is about experience and we were losing concentration. We didn’t realise how important those moments were for us in a Test match because you lose wickets immediately and boost the opponents. In Sri Lanka also we realized the same thing and we lost a Test, we were not innovative,” he said in Antigua, a day before the Test series began.On Thursday (July 21), at the Sir Vivian Richards stadium, Cheteshwar Pujara fell four balls into the post-lunch session. Shikhar Dhawan was out to what turned out to be the last ball of the second session. And it took the captain to show his team how it is done.Immediately after the lunch break, West Indies brought on their specialist spinner Devendra Bishoo to make inroads into the batting line-up. Four balls into his first spell, the legspinner dropped the ball a little higher than half-way down the pitch, leaving Pujara to pick his spot in the field and essay a stroke. Pujara, however, only succeeded in miscuing the pull to the fielder stationed at point. Concentration lapse No.1.Similarly, as the session came to a close, with India looking more and more in control, Bishoo bowled the last over before tea to a well-set Dhawan. The left-hander had already got used to Bishoo’s bowling and knew what to expect. He shaped up for the sweep, a shot he had played well until then, but failed to put bat to ball and was out plumb in front. Concentration lapse No.2.Unfortunately, what Kohli wanted his team to try and avoid had come back to bite them in Antigua. To make matters worse, Ajinkya Rahane was dismissed to a shocker of a delivery from Bishoo in the final session.Despite all of this, Kohli stood firm and practised what he preached. When the sessions were drawing to a close or were just beginning, Kohli was more assured and made sure he did not lose his wicket. When he faced similar kind of deliveries that led to the dismissals of Pujara and Dhawan, he played them more carefully and still got the runs he needed. He did not smash them to the boundary boards, but looked to deal in twos and threes instead.No wonder then that Kohli played two full sessions and remained unbeaten at the end of it all. No wonder then that Kohli ended as India’s top run-scorer at stumps on Day 1. No wonder then that Kohli went on to reach his 12th Test hundred, and his first in the West Indies. Whatever he wanted his team to do, Kohli showed them how it had to be done. Now, it’s just for them to follow.India’s strength is underpinned by its batting line-up and it makes complete sense that Kohli and Kumble want to iron out all possible chinks in that category. The former had mentioned that this team’s ability to learn from one game or a particular passage of play and implement the changes in the very next stands out, if the side manages to do that over the course of this series, India could well be unstoppable.

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