Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli, India
Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli.(Photo: Twitter)

Former Team India head coach Ravi Shastri opened up on his partnership with the 32-year-old batting talisman, Virat Kohli, and explained how he happened to find the Indian skipper in tatters following the 2014 England tour.

Shastri stated that his first goal in the team was to identify a player who can “walk the talk” and his eyes set upon Kohli. The right-hander was reeling after his horrible 2014 England tour where he kept getting dismissed by James Anderson.

Barring interviews on television (with players), I knew nobody except probably MS Dhoni because I had worked with him in 2007. There was nobody from my generation, there was nobody from the immediate generation after me. For instance, I had a connection with players of the previous decade – Sachin, Rahul, Sourav, Anil. That generation was gone.

MS Dhoni, Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli
MS Dhoni, Ravi Shastri, Virat Kohli. (Photo: Twitter)

So, once I came on board, my first challenge was to identify someone who could walk the talk and I found in Virat Kohli the guy with the character, game, and personality to step into Dhoni’s shoes. Virat was reeling from that tour of England because he hardly got runs. He was in a state of shock the way things had panned out. But you could see there was still enough there to get him going. Once he was back on his feet, there would be no looking back,” Shastri told Times of India.

Shastri went on to add that the vision he had for the Indian team matched with what Kohli had in his mind and their camaraderie began to flourish after that.

I began watching him very closely. The more closely I saw him, I could see his sense of confidence returning back with each day. Those initial two three months went in getting to know the team better. We began talking a lot, on various issues – batting techniques, the path forward, a lot of things. And I think, it really came to the surface in Australia, when he finally bought into everything we discussed. He was absolutely ready to walk that talk – not just in the way he played his game but the way we wanted the team to play,” Shastri added.

James Anderson, Virat Kohli
James Anderson dominated Virat Kohli in 2014. (Image-thetimes.co.uk)

“The focus was to do right whatever was within the laws of the game” – Ravi Shastri

The aggressive spirit and never-give-up mindset were imbibed in Kohli long before he took the cricket field. His philosophy was to always go for the win no matter what and that was evident during Kohli’s first stint as captain in the Adelaide Test in 2014.

A very aggressive style of cricket, in your face cricket, where you were never out there to please others. The whole focus was to do whatever it takes, do whatever is right, within the laws of the game, to win. He set the bar really high on that tour, got four centuries and a fifty. We lost that series 2-0 but I still remember Alan Border walking up to me at the end of the series in Sydney and said: “Rav, well done man. Not many teams bat out the last day to save Test matches at the colosseums, which is Melbourne and Sydney.

My First Challenge Was To Identify Someone Who Could Walk The Talk - Ravi Shastri On How He Identified Virat Kohli's Potential
Virat Kohli during the Adelaide Test (Photo- AFP)

And mind you, this after a close first Test in which he got a hundred in each innings and really cemented the way he wanted to play in Australia – a good, aggressive brand of cricket. The way we went for the chase of 360-plus on the final day of that Test showed what kind of cricket we wanted to play,” Shastri added.

If India hadn’t lost the Adelaide Test the way they did, the famous comeback win at the Gabba in 2021 may not have been possible.

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