Virat Kohli will be back in action on the 22 yards after a break, during which he rested through the T20I series against New Zealand completely and then essentially chose to step off the treadmill and spend time working on his batting rather than jump right back into Test cricket. While India played the Kanpur Test, Kohli worked with former India batting coach Sanjay Bangar in Mumbai, which is where he lives.
Mental well-being has become a higher priority than ever before – Kohli
“It is very important to understand that it is crucial to refresh yourself mentally,” Kohli said a day before the Mumbai Test. “When you play so much cricket at a certain level for so long, it gets taken for granted that you will keep turning up series after series and perform with the same intensity in every match.
“Since the situation has changed [with bio-bubbles being introduced as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic], a lot of people have spoken about how difficult it is in bubble life. Our players’ understanding and management’s communication is good, we have spoken a lot about how to manage the workload. More than workload, giving them mental space.
“From my personal experience, I can tell you that practising in an environment where you were not in a structured environment and there weren’t 50 cameras trained at you… we could do that previously, we would have windows where you could step aside and individually work on your game or take some time off where you are not doing the same thing every day. That makes a lot of difference.
“To maintain the quality of cricket, to maximise the ability of the cricketers, to keep them in a good space, it is very important to consider this. Not just our team, but across the world, players are in the mindset to manage the workload, more from the mental point of view rather than physical.”
Need to communicate well with the team regarding game combination – Kohli
With Kohli playing the 2nd Test, someone must go out of the playing eleven. Pujara and Rahane have come under the scanner for their consistent inconsistency. The duo have been faring bad since the last 2-3 years, with Pujara not reaching the three-figure mark for nearly 3 years now. Their combined average is less than 25. Shreyas Iyer’s record-making debut hasn’t made things easy for them. Kohli, when asked about who might be dropped, didn’t give away the selection change but instead emphasized on clarity of commuincation.
“You have to obviously understand the situation of where the team is placed,” Kohli said. “You have to understand where individuals stand at certain stages during the course of a long season. So you have to obviously communicate well. You have to speak to the individuals, and approach them in a way where you explain things to them properly. Mostly it has been combination-based whenever we have done changes in the past.
“It is never a thing that you say that I am absolutely okay or happy about being told that the combination doesn’t allow me to play. That is the dynamic of team sport, and we prioritise the team first, and making sure we take care of individuals along the way. That’s something we have done consistently as a Test team.
“We have backed the set of players that have done the job for the Indian team the last five-six years. We maintain and continue to maintain they are the integral part of the larger scheme of things, of the core group of the Indian Test team. They have always been players we have relied upon on many occasions. And they have done the job. It is upon realising and being aware of what’s happening, and then we find the right space and the right way to approach people. Obviously with the management, the coaching staff, discussions happen in a rounded manner.”