New Delhi: The lesson of ‘forward press against fast bowlers’ came from Sachin Tendulkar. Another tip from head coach Ravi Shastri to stand outside the crease against all bowlers helped Virat Kohli. These two suggestions turned Virat Kohli into a prolific Test batsman after a disastrous England tour in 2014. It was the tour in which England fast bowler James Anderson made Virat Kohli his ‘bunny’.
Nightmare of a tour
Kohli had a nightmare of an England tour where he failed in 10 successive innings. However, he came back later in the year against Australia scoring four tons in four games, including two in Adelaide. Kohli has disclosed some insights regarding his batting in a chat with Mayank Agarwal for ‘bcci.tv’.
“The 2014 (tour) will be a milestone in my career. Lot of people will take good tours as a milestone in their careers. However, for me 2014 will be a milestone,” Kohli told Agarwal in the show ‘Open Nets with Mayank’.
Tips from Tendulkar
“I came back from England and spoke to Sachin Paaji (Tendulkar). Then had a few sessions with him in Mumbai. I told him that I am working on my hip position. He made me realise the importance of big stride, a forward press against fast bowlers,” Kohli explained.
“The moment I started doing that with my hip alignment, things started falling in place nicely and then the Australia tour happened. My hip position was an issue during that England tour. It was basically not adjusting to the conditions and doing what I wanted to do. So being rigid doesn’t take you anywhere. It was a long and painful realisation but thankfully I realised it,” added the Indian skipper.
Importance of hip movement
The opening of the hip limited his shot making ability, Kohli informed.
“One thing stood out, right hip opens or closes too much you know you are in trouble. Keep that hip position nice and side-on and balanced. It will help you play through both off-side and leg-side with equal control, that is very important,” Kohli added.
Anderson was taking him out mainly with outgoing deliveries. “I was too worried thinking about the ball that might come in. The problem was I was opening up a bit too early so the ball that was going away I was getting out to it every time. I just couldn’t get past that confusion,” he admitted.
However with the tweak in technique also came a tweak in his stance, which was suggested by Shastri (Team Director in 2014-15). It happened just before the start of 2014-15 Australia tour. The rest as they say is history.
“He (Shastri) told me one thing, to stand outside the crease. He explained the mindset behind it. ‘You should be in control of the space you are playing in. You should not be giving opportunities to the bowler to get you out’, was the info I got,” Kohli stated.
Shastri also explained the logic that by standing outside the crease, so many dismissals get taken out. “So I started practising that the same year and results were unbelievable,” Kohli added.
The Indian captain also credited former India coach Duncan Fletcher, someone with vast knowledge about batting.
“I made my stance bigger after a conversation with Duncan Fletcher. He has an amazing understanding of the game. He only asked one question, ‘Will I be able to play the short ball with a forward press and that base (widened stance)’. I said I can,” Kohli said.