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By Chetan Narula
Hamilton: Jan 21, 2014
He stood tall with a sparkling hundred before India self-destructed in the opening match against New Zealand and vice-captain Virat Kohli said his fellow batsmen will have to produce a more “responsible” performance for the side to stage a comeback on Wednesday.
The number three batsman hit his 18th One-Day International (ODI) hundred in the first match of the series at Napier on Sunday. However, it wasn’t good enough to win the match for India as the visitors lost by 24 runs, surrendering a 1-0 lead.
“It would have been better if we had won but it has been a positive start for us and I am sure that going forward in this series, we will bat more responsibly and get into good positions,” he Kohli said ahead of the second match here.
Personally, Kohli was happy with the way he performed in the game.
“It felt very good batting in the last match. The good thing is that we got time to prepare, so mentally I was in the right space,” he said.
“We practiced for about five days before the series started and it really helped me to set up my plans and play according to the conditions and the sort of bowling that we are going to be facing from New Zealand throughout the series.
“I got a lot of time to visualise and it was a very good feeling that I was able to execute my plans,” Kohli added.
It was Kohli’s 12th hundred while chasing in the ODIs and on previous 11 occasions, he has been able to take his team across the finish line.
“While chasing, you know how many runs you need to get and that is something I have always taken as a positive,” he said, explaining his mindset.
“As international cricketers, we have got to be good enough to stand up to that challenge and fit enough to actually react to those deliveries. That’s where your fitness counts as well,” Kohli added.
Kohli said only a fit batsman would be capable of reacting well to the short delivery.
“If you are not fit enough, you might not have the reflexes to actually tackle a ball thrown at 150 km/hr to you and you might be totally exposed or found in a very uncomfortable spot. We should be prepared to face anything,” he explained.
“If it is a seaming wicket, if they are trying to nick us off, then we should be technically correct to tackle that. If they are trying to bounce us out, we should be technically correct to leave the ball or if confident pull the ball,” he added.
Asked if he had done anything different from the other batsmen to find success where they had not, Kohli said, “One thing I learnt in South Africa was when you are batting, you need to commit to it fully because people are bowling at you at 140-145 kmph, there is not much time to decide and think after the ball is bowled.
“Whatever you want to do, you got to read the length and commit to the shot. If you want to leave the ball, you have got to commit to that. That was one thing I had in mind, my head was pretty clear when I was batting,” he said.
“Because that way I can analyse situations and figure out at what stage of the innings I need to score how many runs and what I need to do to put the team in a strong position at that particular moment. It’s more like having a target ahead of you and breaking it down is a lot easier as far as I am concerned,” Kohli added.
“I look at it in a very different way and it gives me the right kind of mindset to execute my plans according to how many runs are needed during that situation. That’s the only thing I have figured out, why I like to bat second and why I like to calculate scores.”
Though happy with his own show, Kohli said a hundred in the winning cause is what he would have preferred.
“…it is very special if you are able to finish the game for your team. That’s something that I always aim to achieve,” he said.
In the first ODI though, he was unable to do so, because the next best score after his 123 was only 40 runs, scored by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The top order and the middle order fell apart, with four batsmen falling to shorts balls, a ploy deployed with aplomb by the Black Caps.
“It’s a personal choice of any team, what sort of plan they want to come up with against us. I think a lot of teams have tried to bounce us out but that hasn’t been the case for the longest time that I have seen,” Kohli said of New Zealand’s tactics.
“Mostly the bouncer is a plan to set you up for the next ball to nick you off. A bouncer is never to scare you away, it is just to put in the batsman’s head that there might be a short ball coming, another one, because you have two in the over now.”
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