‘We made too much of the conditions’ – Kohli underlines mental hurdles

It’s all in the mind. While accepting that his side didn’t play good enough cricket in the 2-0 series defeat in New Zealand, Virat Kohli said that they lost the battle in their heads, and needed to be more positive and clear-headed when confronted with similar situations and conditions. He said he saw something in this series that he hadn’t before with the Indian side: a fear of conditions.

Kohli was asked what mistakes his side needed to rectify. “Having clarity, as batsmen,” he said. “We have performed in difficult conditions in the past as well, and we understand that we were in a good frame of mind when we were playing in those conditions at that period. I think it’s about trying to get into that space more often than not. And for that you need to think positively on every day of the Test match, every situation, every session that you are a part of.

“[It’s] something we failed to do as a batting unit, and I truly believe that we made too much of the conditions from the first day onwards of the first Test: overcast, a bit of dampness on the pitch. We never used to speak of these things before. So yeah, it can creep in every now and then, it’s about not letting it grow, not letting it become a norm, something that we as a side have not done at all. We don’t go into conditions and think that we might not be able to execute what we want to. We’ve always gone in with a very positive outlook, and your skill follows how you think.

“If you’re not clear in your head, then the feet don’t move. You’re not quite sure whether to play the shot or not, leave the ball or play the ball. I think these sorts of things can creep in, and which have crept in in this series. It’s something we have recognised already. The good thing is that everyone’s understood what’s happened and is very keen to improve it. It’s all mental. I don’t see any problem with anyone’s game as such. It’s mental, and it’s something that can happen at this level and we just need to accept it and iron it out and move ahead.”

Kohli spoke of the importance of not thinking negatively. “If you are taking pressure, then all kinds of things can feel wrong whether it is personal skill or playing as a team, but when you are just optimistic about what you want to do… say you walk out to score runs rather than thinking of survival or thinking of conditions too much, then you will bat accordingly. Similarly as a team if you are worried about what might happen in a session, whether it will go our way or not, then invariably it does not.

“So I think the outlook as far as I am concerned, and as far as I saw things happening, was not ideal for us in this series. We were not positive enough, we were not brave enough in moments, which we have done in the past. In the crunch moments [previously], we have just gone for it; even though we have lost, still we compete. Those are things for me that need to be ironed out. Skills follow your mindset, simple as that. You can bat as well as you want, but as long as you don’t think right, then you are not going to be able to do what you want to do. More about ironing those things out mentally and going ahead positively and taking challenges head on.”

More to follow…

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