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For Virat, it is about realising a huge potential

Last updated on: November 29, 2011 09:24 IST

For Virat, it is about realising a huge potential

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The upcoming tour of Australia provides Virat Kohli an ideal platform to resurrect his Test career, writes Bikash Mohapatra

For someone whose Test debut was awaited with eager anticipation and closely monitored by experts and critics alike, Virat Kohli was a colossal disappointment.

The 23-year-old had everything going for him to begin with. A stellar ODI career -- he averages 45.91 in 69 matches since his debut about three years back and an equally successful T20 career (Remember he was the lone player retained by the Bangalore IPL outfit?) -- promised a solid start to his innings in the longer version of the game.

India's tour of West Indies this June provided the opportunity. With many seniors -- Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir and captain MS Dhoni to name a few -- opting out of the same owing to injury or exhaustion, it provided the talented young batsman an apt platform to showcase his potential.


Image: Virat Kohli

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'I was responsible for my poor show in the West Indies'

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However, Kohli failed to rise to the occasion.

An aggregate of 76 runs in five innings (@ 15.20) was hardly something expected from a player who promised so much. No wonder, he was not a part of the Test squad to England.

Asked to look back at his disappointing Test debut, Kohli was analytical and aware as to where exactly he went wrong.

"I was responsible for my poor show in the West Indies," he admitted.

"I had put myself under a lot of pressure and was doing too many things at the same time," he added.


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Wankhede Test was Kohli's second chance

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The batsman, though, got back into the groove in the following ODI series, notching 194 runs in five innings (@ 38.80), highlighted by a magnificent 107 in the fifth match at Sophia Gardens.

And when the English team headed to India for the return series, Kohli hit peak form, scoring 270 runs in five matches (@ 90.00).

Though he couldn't make his way into the squad for the first two Tests in the subsequent series against the West Indies, another possibility arose when Yuvraj Singh was dropped for the third and final Test at the Wankhede.

The selectors had to choose either Rohit Sharma or Kohli as the replacement. They opted for the latter.


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'No. 6 is not a very easy position to bat'

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Kohli, determined to prove his mettle on this occasion, scored 52 and 63 in the drawn affair. Both knocks came at crucial times, thereby justifying his selection to an extent.

"I went in to bat in a difficult situation. But I cherish such situations," said Kohli, adding, "No. 6 is not a very easy position to bat."

The youngster went on to explain his strategy.

"Initially, I was playing a supporting role to the set batsmen. But once we lost wickets in quick succession, I had to take over."


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'I was under pressure in any case'

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Kohli went on to explain what worked for him at the Wankhede.

"I didn't want to take many risks," he said, adding, "I didn't want to go for something which I wasn't sure about.

"I was under pressure in any case, after my performance in the West Indies."

The fact he got out after having settled down, especially in the second innings, is something his seniors felt he will learn to  avoid with experience.

"It is an early phase of his career. He will, hopefully, learn from the games he plays," said Dhoni.


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'I am basically a mindset player'

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Kohli concurred with his captain's opinion.

"The more I can learn in my first few matches, the more it will benefit me as a newcomer," he admitted, before elaborating on what he needs to build on to have a productive career in the longer, and more classical, version of the game.

"I am basically a mindset player," said Kohli. "Being in form is fine, but I also need to be in the right frame of mind.

"Tests are, in any case, all about mental toughness." Words of wisdom from the batsman.

Yes, Kohli definitely possesses the skill and talent. A right mindset will go a long way in ensuring a productive Test career for one of India's greatest young prospects.

The upcoming tour of Australia will provide an ideal test.


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