Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting is hoping that the cricketing world gets to see talismanic India batter Virat Kohli at his best during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia in October-November.
Kohli returned to cricketing action after a break of nearly a month and a half, showing glimpses of some form during his 35 against Pakistan in his 100th T20I appearance, where India won by five wickets in a thrilling clash.
“First and foremost, great to see him back in the runs. No surprise that he did it in a run chase. We’ve always known that about him. His record suggests he is better when his team is chasing runs. When I saw his runs and then I’ve read on social media over the last few days, it sounded like he found himself in quite a dark place. Like a lot of us men, he wasn’t willing to talk about it and share it.”
“It sounds like when he has started to share, started to talk, it might have just freed him up a bit and he started to feel better about himself again. I just hope that we see him back at his best and in the World Cup. I’d rather see Virat come out here (in Australia) and be one of the leading players in the tournament, but just make sure he doesn’t score many runs against Australia when they play!” said Ponting on The ICC Review show.
On the eve of India’s match against Pakistan, Kohli had said in a tell-all interview to broadcasters Star Sports that he had been faking his high intensity, which he is famously known for in the field, during his period of rough patch with the bat. Kohli has not scored a century in international cricket since November 2019.
Ponting recalled there were parallels with his own struggles for form during the latter years of his career, a phase where Kohli is currently. “I don’t think I can quite relate to the ‘intensity’ (comment). When things aren’t well and you’re not scoring the runs you used to scoring, the game all of a sudden seems to be too hard. I sort of faced it in the last couple of years of my career where my career tapered off quite quickly. It was almost, the harder I work, the worse I got.”
“I was so focused and conscious on being perfect and doing things exactly right, thinking I had to do that to get the best out of myself, but all I was doing was putting pressure on myself and not letting myself play the game the way I always played it. I reckon it might be a bit of that creeping in with Virat as well. It’s just human nature when things aren’t going the way you want, you push harder, you try harder, and the harder you try the harder it gets.”
Ponting believes it was important Kohli took time off the game to reset himself considering the hectic cricketing schedule in today’s cricketing era. “One thing I’ll say about, as international cricketers, and probably more so with the modern Indian players, the amount of cricket they’re actually playing internationally and the IPL, you can quite often bluff yourself that you’re feeling good and that you are fresh, that you have got plenty of energy.”
“Because when you’re tired, you have to tell yourself that, because you’ve got to get up and play again the next day. It’s not until you have stopped and just have a few days off, or you have a week away, that you realise how tired physically and mentally you are.”
“For someone like Virat, it was no good having a week off. The fact that he has taken that month off to get away, to sort of re-gather his thoughts, get himself back where we think he is in the right space mentally. There’s lots of good signs there.”