In between the lows and highs in England and Australia in 2014, Indian captain Virat Kohli had sought help from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, after which he became “absolutely fearless” while facing the likes of Mitchell Johnson.
Kohli is currently leading the Indian team in the five-match Test series against England, which began here on Wednesday.
“You know that playing at this level over a long period of time, you tend to go into a space where you become a bit insecure, fearful, you want to prove to people how good you are in different conditions,” Kohli told Sky Sports in an interview.
Kohli endured a disastrous tour of England in 2014, registering scores of 1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6 and 20 in five Tests, for an average of 13.50 in 10 innings.
However, he roared back to form in the tour of Australia after that, accumulating 692 runs in the Test series.
“To be honest before that Australia tour, I was treating every foreign tour like, more like an engineering exam, that I have to pass somehow and I have to show people that I can play at this level,” recalled the maestro.
Kohli also said that during that break, he realised who was with him and who wasn’t.
“There I realised that once you are down and out, there was hardly anyone who came to help me, there was hardly anyone who was looking towards me and saying listen let’s work together and you know try to get your game up to speed, everyone was just going after me left, right and centre,” remembered Kohli.
“So, I was like I am playing to prove these people long, for what, I have got nothing to do with them, they literally have nothing to contribute in my life,” he added.
Virat Kholi is felled by a delivery from England bowler Chris Woakes during day three of the 3rd Investec Test between England and India at Ageas Bowl on July 29, 2014 in Southampton. – Getty Images
Kohli said that the only option for him then was to keep working hard.
“So, I went back home, I was down for quite a bit, the great thing that happened at that stage was, I realised who is with me, who’s not, things were filtered to an extent that I just got so relaxed when I went back home, I was like okay.
“I have hit a rock bottom now, no one believes in me, everyone thinks I should not be playing Test cricket, so what can I do, I can just work hard as I can,” he elaborated.
He said that during his workout sessions, he visualised how he would face former Australian speedster Mitchell Johnson, who was then at his peak.
“I went into a bubble, I went to Bombay as well, I called Sachin Tendulkar, I asked for his help, I said I want to get my game right, I want to understand what it is like to score runs at this level, my mindset was simple.
“I went back home I told myself, listen you can’t play Test cricket to show people that you can play in England, Australia and not get out.
“If you don’t score it is not a point, you play this game to make your team win. So my mindset was I am going to go to Australia and how I am going to score runs against these guys.
“I wasn’t going out there to survive, and from the time I got back home till the Australia tour, I promise you I was visualising every day, when I was working out in the gym, that I am hitting Mitchell Johnson, I am hitting these guys all over the park.
“Those things came to life eventually because I convinced myself to an extent, when I went there I was absolutely fearless and things just started flowing,” he recalled.