By Virat Kohli’s admission, the failure of the 2014 series in England has always haunted him until he went on to score 149 in the first Test match at Edgbaston in 2018.
In the RCB Podcast Season 2, Virat Kohli recalled how he was welcomed to the crease by the Edgbaston crowd in 2018.
“My heart was pumping because all I could think of was the flashes of 2014. I walked in and there were about 35,000 people at the stadium and they all started booing the moment I entered the field. My heart started beating faster. They have this amazing ability to create an environment where you feel like I have got no chance here,” recalled Kohli.
When India toured England in 2014, James Anderson was Virat Kohli’s nemesis with the right-arm pacer dismissing the India skipper on four occasions. Kohli could score just 134 runs in his 10 innings. But Kohli came back to England an altogether different batsman in 2018 as he finished the Test series as the top run-scorer with an impressive 593-run tally with two centuries and three fifties to his name.
“I remember James Anderson was the guy running with the ball, and I was like, what are the odds here I am facing the first ball from him again after four years. In my mind, I was like ‘please just play the first ball and he bowled it at the fourth stump and I left that ball’. I became calm after that first ball and then I got dropped at 22. I could have got out on 22 in that innings but I got 149 and I didn’t look back from there, so that’s when you realised that you just can’t sit there and crib about things that didn’t go right. There are a lot of things that went right. So much wait was lifted from my shoulder,” he said.
Kohli also revealed how eager he was to prepare for the 2018 series, and he even signed a contract with County side Surrey but a neck injury during the IPL ruled him out.
“I was going to play county cricket before the 2018 series. I was a bit nervous because I thought I needed to prepare more. But then I had a neck issue in 2018 I fell ill in one of the IPL games and I could not go there because It aggravated,” said Kohli.
Kohli also recalled how the words of his RCB teammate AB de Villiers before going to England calmed him down.
“I remember AB telling me at that time. I spoke to him that I am feeling a bit jittery because I am not able to go and play in the county. He said this is not 2014, and you are not the same player. You would be absolutely fine. I became very calm after that,” he said.
Virat also accepted what exactly went wrong for him in the 2014 tour, and he failed so miserably.
“Before going to England in 2014, i had a good series at home against New Zealand. I scored a century and a 70. I was high on confidence.
“When we went to England in 2014, I thought I needed to prove myself here that was wrong in the first place. Because I went there to prove something that I can play in these conditions and not go there to kind of make my team win, that wasn’t my focal point. My main aim was to I need to prove that I can play here. I was always under pressure. And once things went back I was not able to find a way to get out of that. It was a very bad phase,” he said.
Kohli recalled how after that England tour, he was kept reminded about his failure even after he went on to score across the globe.
“From 2014 to 2018, I did everything everywhere in the world and performed in every condition. But people just held on to one thing ‘Ohh but what about England’. That’s when i realised that probably I played cricket at a level which I am certainly very proud of. I have win so many games for the team, but people are constantly looking at things which has not gone right,” he said.
On his ups and down in Test cricket earlier in his career, the former India captain said: “I started performing well since 2010. I made my Test debut in 2011, and it didn’t go well for me. I was left out of the side then I made a comeback at the end of the year again.
“I was given a few chances, scored a few runs, went to Australia and again two horrible Test matches, to begin with. Then I kind of came back on track and I had a great Test match in Perth against all the odds at that point in time. Then I got my first Test hundred in Adelaide. I had kind of started to get the hold of my game at the Test level.”
Virat Kohli has played 106 Tests, 271 ODIs and 115 T20Is for India in a career spanning 15 years scoring over 25000 international runs.