CAPE TOWN: India captain Virat Kohli on Monday made it clear that the current team management is not thinking of phasing out under-pressure senior players Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane as “transitions” can’t be forced on individuals based on mere “conversations”.
While both the senior players have found some form with fifties in the lost second Test against South Africa but prolonged inconsistency has given rise to questions on whether it is becoming unfair on the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Hanuma Vihari, who are forced to sit out despite decent performances.
With Iyer scoring a hundred and fifty on debut in the home series against New Zealand and Vihari hitting an unbeaten 40 in his comeback Test in Johannesburg, Kohli was asked whether conversations have started on how to handle the transition phase and the skipper nipped it in the bud.
“Well, I obviously can’t pinpoint when we will have a talk on transition. The game itself pans out in a way that transitions happen. It can’t be forced by individuals,” Kohli put forth his point pretty succinctly.
He came in defence of his senior teammates.
“If you look at the last Test, the way Jinx and Pujara batted, in the second innings, that experience is obviously priceless for us, especially in series like these where we know that these guys have done the job in the past.
“These guys have performed in Australia the last time we were there. In the last Test, they played crucial knocks in crucial situations and that has a lot of value.”
The skipper was of the opinion that conversations regarding transitions with individuals (no names taken) could be tricky and one should let that happen organically.
“I feel, transitions do happen and they happen naturally. Conversations can’t be forced around transitions is what I feel.
“When the transition happens, everyone knows which direction the team is going, that’s a very natural progression and I think we should leave transition to unfold itself and not necessarily force individuals in tricky or difficult situations,” he said.
That shot from Pant and “golden words” from MSD once upon a time
Acceptance of mistake is the first sign of improvement, feels the Indian Test captain as he spoke extensively about Rishabh Pant’s rash shot in the second innings at Johannesburg and put it in context with a piece of advice received from his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni which became a thumb rule for him.
“MS Dhoni, at the start of my career, had given me a fabulous piece of advice. Between your first and second mistake, there should be a minimum gap of seven to eight months and then only can you prolong your career.
“That got ingrained in my system that I will not repeat the same mistake,” Kohli said in reference to Pant’s dismissal while trying to give Kagiso Rabada the charge in Johannesburg.
But he did mention that he and coach Rahul Dravid have had some serious conversations with Pant about that mode of dismissal.
“We have had conversations with Rishabh at practice. When a batter plays a particular stroke, he is the first one to know whether it was a correct shot to play in that particular situation,” the skipper’s answer was clear enough as to how he felt.
“As long as an individual, one accepts the responsibility, I think, then only can you make proper progress. We have all been out at some point at important stages of a match in our careers.
“Sometimes because of pressure, sometimes because of our own mistake and some other times when a bowler shows quality skills. You need to understand what was the mind-set at that particular moment when you made a certain decision,” he explained.
“The more we learn to accept our mistakes, the better players we become. We improve and ensure that (mistakes) are not repeated,” Kohli said.
He is confident that Pant will not repeat his mistakes and make his opportunities count.
“He will make sure that next time in an important situation, he will stand up and take responsibility and give an impact performance.”