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Sunday, January 23, 2011

‘I’d like to achieve some of the things Sachin has’ - I look to play positively, says kohli.

Johannesburg: Virat Kohli, who has been batting like a dream this season, spoke to The Telegraph at the Sandton Sun, on Saturday evening. He’s the only Indian to register two fifties in the ongoing ODI series.

An U-19 World Cup-winning captain, in 2007-08, the spunky Kohli has the potential to make it big even in Test cricket. He’s one who should be watched.

The following are excerpts from the one-on-one

Q Conditions at St George’s Park weren’t ideal on Friday, but you showed plenty of character...

A I took guard in a positive frame of mind and stuck to the basics... The game plan was to put away the bad balls and respect the good ones... I was quite clear that the balls in my zone would be hit.

India lost and you were left 13 short of a hundred. A double disappointment?

Yeah... It would’ve been great had I got a hundred and had that knock helped India win... In cricket, you never know... The last over may settle the issue. However, it wasn’t to be.

You played in the 2009 Champions Trophy in South Africa, scripting a quality knock (79 not out) against the West Indies at the Wanderers... That exposure seems to have helped, isn’t it?

Yes, plus having played in IPL II and the last Champions League... It was nice to have got those runs against the West Indies, for the wicket had been bouncy and the ball was doing a bit... This, of course, is a different attack and facing world-class bowlers is a challenge.

Is this the toughest you’ve faced?

Well, Australia’s was tough in the 2009-10 series at home, but South Africa’s attack is tougher. Also, we’re playing away.

Who has been your hero?

(Passionately) Sachin Tendulkar... It’s my good fortune that I’ve been able to share the India dressing room with him... Fortunate, too, that I’ve been able to talk cricket with him... I’ve set myself high goals... I’d like to achieve at least some of the things Sachin has... On and off the field, he’s a role model... With him around, one only learns.

You’ve been quite outstanding this season. What has made the difference?

Don’t think I’ve done anything special... I’ve worked hard on my batting, have learnt to stick to the basics... Indeed, I’ve stopped playing rash shots, at least not early in the innings... I’ve realised that I can make up when I’m set... Opportunities won’t be allowed to pass, but it’s about being sensible... It’s about playing no-risk cricket.

Isn’t confidence a factor?

Accepted, but I keep my mind free and look to play positively.

How did you prepare for this series?

I had about a month to get ready... I set out to bat on the frontfoot, for it wouldn’t help if I lacked confidence... I had to adopt an in-the-face approach, make South Africa quickly realise that I’m up for the challenge.

No.3 suits you...

I enjoy batting at that position... It suits me, for I look to get set first... I like facing the new-ball, when the restrictions are there. I’m grateful to the captain (Mahendra Singh Dhoni) for showing so much faith in a youngster like me.

Surely, you’ve now established yourself in the ODI XI... What do you feel?

I’m not saying that I’ve established myself... It’s for the management to decide on when and where I play... I’ll be happy to play anywhere, for I realise there are many who’ve played more than me.

You add value in the field as well...

I do work hard on fielding, too, but the thing about fielding is that you’ve got to feel good on the day. If you aren’t feeling active, then the hours and hours of practice won’t be of help... You must want the ball to come to you.

Are you itching for your maiden Test cap?

(Smiles) Absolutely. That will be the realisation of a dream.

Thoughts on Sunday’s decider, in Centurion...

It’s a final, isn’t it? We’ll have to put our best foot forward... We’re on the verge of history and it would be nice to actually make it. Hopefully, we’ll produce our best one-day cricket.

Aren’t you tired?

I slept for a few hours on getting here and will go back to sleep after this interview!

Finally... The World Cup is just weeks away. Are you worried about the pressure of playing at home?

At home, there’s always pressure... We’ll have to forget about the external factors and do what we can to the best of our abilities... Thinking about pressure won’t help... People expect India to win the World Cup, but one can’t control such expectations. If we play good cricket, the results will definitely take care of themselves.

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