Five lessons from Virat Kohli's clinic against Delhi Daredevils

If there was any doubt that Virat Kohli lives to play, he cleared it during his 38.2 over stay in the middle of the Shahid Veer Narayan Singh Stadium in Raipur on Sunday night when he fielded with intensity, led with passion and batted as only he can to guide Royal Challengers Bangalore to second place in the Vivo Indian Premier League table.

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With the Delhi Daredevils making only a sub-par score on being asked to bat first, if you chose to watch the game not so much as a cricket fan but as a student of life, the 27-year-old dished out quite a few lessons of immense value.

Be aware of ground realities

Indeed, there was a huge takeaway for anyone who chose watch Kohli’s game from the point of view of a learner. For someone who hit 36 sixes – the most by anyone in this edition of IPL – it was significant that he did not attempt taking the aerial route throughout his unbeaten knock of 54.

He had seen Chris Gayle and AB de Villiers fall early and had to see his team through. More importantly, he was aware that the boundaries in Raipur were farther back than at his team’s home ground in Bangalore. What’s more, he had himself taken a splendid catch, sprinting from mid-off towards the sight-screen to dismiss one of Delhi Daredevil’s most consistent batsmen, Karun Nair.

Be rooted in humility

After the play-off spot was sealed, he responded honestly to Sanjay Mankrekar’s question on how he stayed grounded despite the golden vein of form. “It is very important not to get rude or arrogant about the way you are striking the ball,” Kohli said, indicating that he believed in not getting ahead of the game itself.

“Of course, there will be times when people will have a go at you. But after that first chat is done, you are back to basics and be humble about what you have to do on the pitch. It is about respecting that thin line between being over-confident and being confident and calm about your skills,” he said.

Take responsibility

Kohli’s earthy approach also found expression when he spoke of how his past achievements count for little when going out to bat. “I choose not to pay attention to all that (stats about his recent domination with the bat) because each match is a new game. Every match is an opportunity for you to win it for your team. If I am batting well, make the most of it and take the team through,” he said.

NOAH SEELAM / AFP

Present is all that matter

“It is not easy. You have to start afresh every day. I know it sounds very boring and traditional but that is how it is. To have the discipline to improve as a cricketer every day, you need to do boring things and you have to build your innings the same way, no matter how well you are striking the ball,” Kohli said.

“You have to make sure that every day is made use of and you need to make every day count. I am making sure that I work hard off the field so that when I come to the ground I have ensured that I do what I was born to do well. Naturally, I will be more focussed on the field as well,” he said.

Never let circumstances dent self-belief

After the first set of eight games, RCB was in the doldrums, lying a dismal seventh and its fans could not be blamed if there nursed doubts about the team’s ability to make it to the play-off stage. Instead of letting his team’s apparently weak bowling attack and its over-reliance on him and AB de Villiers get to him, Kohli used those to steel his determination further.

His immense self-belief saw him make three hundreds and three half-centuries to total a whopping 538 runs in the next eight games. Considering that most batsmen do not make 538 runs in a whole IPL season, his feat stamps his ability to not let the challenging circumstances impact the self-belief which he carries with him to the cricket field.

Is there any doubt that Kohli lives to play?