NEW DELHI: Indian skipper Virat Kohli said he discovered a new facet of his batting in the drawn third Test against Sri Lanka – that hitting the ball in a five-day game is no different from an ODI.
Kohli struck 243 off just 287 deliveries with the help of 25 boundaries in the final game against Sri Lanka. He said it was a revelation that he can play at a fast pace in Test cricket, just like he does in ODIs.
“On the personal front, I was hitting the ball very well and it was kind of a revelation that I can play and hit balls in Tests the way I can do in ODIs. That was something I always hesitated to do but this made me realise that you can push the game forward even in Test cricket,” Kohli said after the match.
“There’s nothing called set patterns these days, if you can believe in yourself, you can achieve anything in any format,” said Kohli who was adjudged Man of the Match as well as the Man of the Series for scoring 610 runs with three hundreds, including two double tons.
The 243 was Kohli’s sixth double hundred and he became the first captain to score six Test double tons, eclipsing West Indies legend Brian Lara, who had five.
It was also Kohli’s highest score, surpassing the previous best of 235 against England last year in Mumbai. He also equalled Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag for maximum number of double hundreds.
Asked what is his state of mind when he reaches a milestone like a hundred, he said, “When I was not a captain, it was difficult to think of situations all the time. When I was finding my feet in Test cricket, I was under pressure. When I got to a milestone, I sort of relaxed. Now, it’s a lot different.”
“Now as a captain I have to keep to batting on and on even after I reach hundred or 150 and push forward to put up as many runs on board as possible, or if I am batting in the second innings to create a situation where the bowler can get extra overs to bowl the opposition out later,” he said.
The Indians dropped a few catches in Sri Lanka’s first innings and Kohli admitted that slip fielding is something the team needs to improve before the South Africa tour.
“First and second slip, if you practice well, you can get used to it. We’ve identified it as an area we need to work on.”
On the safe Ajinkya Rahane not fielding at one of the slips, he said, “Firstly, from his initial days, Ajinkya has always fielded at gully. It’s a difficult place, and he has very good reflexes and so we trust him there.”
About Rohit Sharma coming good in this series, Kohli said, “We’ve always believed he can change the game in the lower middle order. Very happy with the way the batsmen are playing, everyone won’t be able to score in every series, obviously. There are a few areas we have to work on, though.”
Kohli said he was a bit disappointed not to have finished off the match but gave credit to the Sri Lankans.
“When you’re not able to finish off in second innings after having them three down on day four, is bit disappointing. But they played well, they showed composure and confidence. The pitch got tired in the end. They (Sri Lankans) did not give us any chances to get into the game.
“In hindsight, if we would’ve grabbed our chances in the first innings, maybe they wouldn’t have got so many runs. We should’ve done better. The slip catching and fielding, we need to work on.”
On resting for the limited-overs leg, he said, “Last time I took rest, it was difficult to handle. But my body is asking for it right now. The workload has been massive, I have been playing non-stop for the last 48 months, I need rest. My body has taken a toll in the last couple of years. Right now is the perfect time to rest before the tour of South Africa.”
Sri Lankan captain Dinesh Chandimal attributed his side’s good show to the execution of the plans.
“It was a really good series, apart from the second Test. We learnt a lot. Credit to the players and management for working hard. The guys executed their plans in the middle.”
Talking about the individual contributions in his team, he said, “Once Rangana was injured, everyone looked up to Angelo Matthews and he delivered. Dhananjaya and Roshen batted really well in tough conditions against some great bowlers India have got.
“Dickwella played a totally different brand of cricket. Happy with the way we played today.”
Asked about his own batting, Chandimal, who hit a crucial century, said, “Before I got here, I changed my technique. I’d worked hard at the nets with the batting coach. It’s paid off for me.”