Virat Kohli has always been a fiery character. Ever since he rose to prominence after leading India to 2008 U-19 World Cup, the Delhi cricketer has been able to grab headlines regardless of the way in which he does it.
There was considerable pressure on Kohli during his first tour to Australia in the 2011-12 season as his Test career didn’t get off to a flourishing start. Rohit Sharma was breathing down on his neck and failures on his first two Test Down Under didn’t help the then 23-year-old.
The Australian crowds were hostile and Kohli, being the character he was, flipped a bird after twin failures in the Sydney Test of 2012. Questions were asked about his attitude and the young batsman, who was part of a struggling visiting team under MS Dhoni, felt the pressure when he reasoned with the media after a disastrous Indian innings in Perth.
Kohli went on to break the duck and scored his first Test century in the fourth Test in Adelaide but his over-the-top attitude continued to be the narrative during his nascent career.
Kohli, who is now leading the Indian team Down Under, has insisted he is a changed man now while conceding he didn’t know where to draw the line on his first trip to Australia.
“The one thing is that I’ve always been myself, I’ve never tried to be someone else because of the opinion. Hence, I learn from my own mistakes, I realise my own mistakes myself and just kept correcting them through the journey,” Kohli was quoted as saying by Fox Cricket.
He added: “But (I’m) massively different from the last two tours, especially the first one, I was so bad.
“I didn’t have a good understanding of where to draw the line and stuff like that. Those are things that I, I wouldn’t say I regret, but those definitely I look at them as mistakes.
“But mistakes that were important for me to commit so I can learn from them. I was never a perfect mould of typical, old school cricketer, I always just wanted to find my own way and I guess those things were a part of that journey.”
It is a well-established notion that Kohli is at his best when he is riled up. The India captain never shies away from an argument. His passion, sometimes, boils over and gets him into trouble, makes him the villain.
Not many can forget how Australians paid the price during India’s tour of 2014-15 tour for sledging Kohli. The 30-year-old went to blast four centuries, including a twin ton in Adelaide, which is hosting the ongoing first Test.
However, Kohli insisted in the lead up to the ongoing four-Test series that he doesn’t feel the need to get into confrontations.
“In the early stage of my career I used to think of these things as important milestones which are really important in one’s career, but now the focus is purely and solely on making the team win at any cost,” Kohli had told Macquarie Sports Radio.
“So … I don’t find the need to get involved in anything with the opposition and I think those are changes that keep happening gradually as you go forward.”
Nonetheless, Kohli had insisted that India will not shy away from speaking a few words on the field against Australia and the visitors have so far remained true to their captain’s words.
(Written by Akshay Ramesh)