India's batting sensation Virat Kohli on Saturday declared that after experimenting with his batting position, the team management has reached a conclusion that No. 3 is the best slot for him in the ongoing ICC World Cup.
"I've played enough number of games to try and experiment batting position for the team to be in the best combination possible, but we figured out that it's best for me to bat at number three which I've done over the last few years, and we have got success because me or one of the top three batsmen has been able to bat through," Kohli said in Melbourne on the eve of the match against South Africa.
However, Kohli is dead against it being termed as a failed experiment.
"We were trying to figure out the best combination for the team. People really need to have some patience with something that we try to do. We do a few experiments, and if they don't pay off, it's regarded as something which is going to be our downfall. We don't think like that," he said.
"Unless you try, you would never know if you're right or wrong. You make mistakes and you have to learn from them, and that was one situation where we wanted to try things out, and we could not have done it at any time apart from the tri-series, and yeah, that was the main plan behind it," Kohli said, defending the decision to change his batting position in the middle order during the ODI tri-series in Australia last month.
He also pointed out changing his position didn't affect his batting.
"No, it did not affect my batting at all. If you do well regularly, people want you to play well in every game. I can't virtually score a century in every game that I play. As long as I know what I'm doing with my batting and the kind of mindset I'm in, I'm not really worried about anything else."
Talking about the key game against South Africa, Kohli was asked if it will be a true test of India's attack and he replied, "Which game is not?"
"For us, every game is apparently a test. Even when we play more weaker sides, we always talk about what if they upset us. I'm not really thinking about all that. It's a game of cricket. I always maintain that you play a game of cricket with bat in hand and ball in hand, and that's all there is to it.
"Obviously, there's no need to prove anything to anyone. We want to play well as a unit, and that's what we're looking to do in this World Cup."
India's convincing victory in their opening match against Pakistan, according to Kohli has given the team self belief at the start of the tournament.
"It will give us immense self-belief that we can beat big sides come the knockout stages, as well, will play a big factor in the game tomorrow, I think. South Africa is as we all know one of the top sides in the world, and they have a good balance of batting and bowling, and their fielding is obviously rare standards in international cricket. Yeah, to get over that hurdle tomorrow will be a morale booster for us in many ways."
It was a different Kohli during the Pakistan match where he hit only six boundaries and his 107 off 126 deliveries was completely different from his normal centuries. By his own admission, it was good to play in a different gear.
"Well, I've been in good form, so more or less it was a case of me making most of that and helping the team in doing so. It doesn't necessarily mean that I won't get a hundred, which would have a strik rate of over a hundred. You never know in cricket. I might go out there tomorrow and I might get six boundaries in the first 10 balls," he said.
Although he has now four international hundreds at the Adelaide Oval, Kohli feels that every Australian ground is very special.
"Every ground in Australia I feel is very special. Since I was a child, I've seen Test and ODI cricket and the World Cup in Australia. So it leaves this feeling when you step on to it because it has a lot of history to it. It’s going to turn out to be one of my most favourite grounds (Adelaide) in the world.
"It so happened on this tour I was able to score three centuries there. It's turned out that way. I've heard Brian Lara say Sydney, he loved Sydney and playing at Sydney, so it feels nice."
For Kohli it's important to stay ahead of opposition in terms of planning.
"You can't keep batting in one way. You have to bat in different ways. People will have plans for you. It's all about how you come to them and stay a step ahead. I think last game more than anything was a learning curve for me personally, learning how to play in different gears and how to mould my game according to what the bowlers are bowling at me.
"Sometimes you will have a single-minded approach that might pay off, but it doesn't happen every time in international cricket, and I think to be consistent you have to switch, which I think I was able to do in the last game. It indeed was something that gave me more confidence in moulding my game according to the situation and the bowlers," he said.
Kohli said that he does not think about whether he would have a change in approach depending on batting position.
"No, not at all. As I said, I don't think so far ahead, even in my cricket. I focus on every ball that I'm playing. I focus on every over that's going on, and accordingly, I plan how the game has to go. You can't really think of wild batting. If you want to hit a six in a situation that demands it, you can’t sit and think, oh, my Nos 9 and 10 are not good enough, so I'm not going to take that risk. That's not how cricket should be played, that's not how cricket is played. That's negative thinking in the first place.
"Obviously, when it comes down to a situation where you need contribution from them, you can put all your backing behind them and all your confidence in them and sit and watch and actually be convinced that they're going to make that contribution for you, so you can't really think beforehand about the lower order batting."