Despite the rumours of a rift between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma, the duo had shown great camaraderie and respect for each other over the period of time. Since taking over the captaincy from Virat Kohli, Rohit has consistently defended the former India captain, who was going through a lean patch.
The milestone we’d all been waiting for and here it is!
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 8, 2022
In a recent interview, Rohit had said: “A batter of Kohli’s quality is always needed in the squad. To have an average of 50 plus in the T20 format, is crazy and unreal. The quality and his kind of batsmanship is required. Plus, he is still a leader of the team. All those things put together, you don’t want to miss out. You don’t want to ignore that kind of stuff. His presence is very important to the team.”
A couple of years back, Virat Kohli, in a delightful interview with host Gaurav Kapur on the ‘Breakfast with Champions’ show had painted an endearing picture of his charmingly absent-minded and outrageously funny mate, Rohit Sharma. He was honest about the pangs of jealousy he had to deal with when they were both budding cricketers with big dreams and the world would praise Rohit to the skies.
“I was curious because everyone was talking about this player called Rohit Sharma. I was very curious because I was also a young player, but nobody was talking about me. Then during the T20 World Cup (2007) I saw him bat, I just slumped in the sofa. That shut my mouth forever.”
The camaraderie between the duo can be seen again in the interview posted by BCCI after India’s last match against Afghanistan in the ongoing Asia Cup.
Virat Kohli, who completed his 71st international hundred and first in T20I cricket in Dubai on Thursday against Afghanistan, spoke to Rohit about the tough times he went through and how the team management helped him to get back into the groove after he came back from the six-week break.
Laughs, mutual admiration & a lot of respect 😎- by @ameyatilak
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 9, 2022
“After playing for 12-14 years, I didn’t pick up the bat for almost a month. And when I came back into to the team, the communication from you and management was pretty clear. The team management’s plan was to let me bat. So it kind of eased me down, I was pretty relaxed, and the space team management gave me was very important, especially when I was coming after a break,” Kohli told Rohit in a free-wheeling chat.
“When I came back, I was excited and eagerly looked forward to making a contribution to the team. I knew that If I played well, it would automatically help the team in the long run,” he added.
Kohli, who walked in to open the batting with Rohit Sharma rested, was on charge from the word go. He notched up his fifty, the third in the tournament, off 32 balls. He hit the next 50 runs off a mere 21 balls. He finished on an unbeaten 122 off 61 balls, the highest score by an Indian player in the T20I format.
A relaxed Kohli admitted how he was trying to do things differently in the T20 cricket and how the chat with the team India head coach Rahul Dravid helped him get his mojo back.
“I had a world with Rahul bhai, three four days ago on how can I improve by strike rate in the middle overs, while batting first. My goal was to improve my game as per team’s point of view, and that I was trying to do in the Asia Cup,” said Kohli.
Rohit Sharma heaped praise on Kohli’s blistering knock against Afghanistan and said: “Today’s knock was a perfect example of how to craft your innings without focussing much on big hitting it was wonderful to see. I know it personally because I have seen you bat long enough.”
“Six-hitting has never been my biggest strength, I can when situation demands, but I am better at finding gaps and hitting boundaries. I was drifting away from my template because I was bit desperate to do something which is not my game.
“So, as long as I can hit my boundaries, it will still serve the purpose for the team. I also told the coaches that I am going to try to hit gaps in the field rather than going for the big shots to up my strike rate.
“T20 mey strike rate upar le jaani hai toh humey chakke maarne padenge. WO cheez maine apne system se nikali is tournament mey and usse mujhe kaafi help mili, kyunki mai apne template mey waapis aa saka. (You don’t have to hit sixes to up you strike rate. This is what i removed from my system in this tournament and it has helped me get back into my old template),” said Kohli.
“My responsibility and role in this team is to play according to the situation but also of the demand of the situation is to take the scoring rate higher I should be able to do that,” he added.
On KL Rahul’s knock
With Rohit Sharma being rested for India’s final game of the tournament, stand-in skipper KL Rahul (62 off 41) and Kohli shared an entertaining 119 off 76 balls for the opening wicket. The knock from Rahul was his most confident one ever since he came back from injury.
“My aim was always to play all three formats. I just banked on good cricketing shots. I always came to every tournament or seroes thinking that. six-hitting is not a nig strength of mine.
“Your form is very critical to our team. Also, with you around, guys also feel relaxed,” Rohit told Virat.
When asked about KL’s knock? Kohli replied: “We should not ignore his knock, because we know ho important, it is for KL to be in the good space as wel before heading to the T20 World Cup. We all know what he can do.”
“In this format, he plays very clean shots, and once he bats will in the T20 cricket then our team looks even more stronger. We know how confident we are as a team and I am sure good thing are about to happen in the future.”