Bengaluru, Apr 17: Former India captain Virat Kohli has returned to his vintage self, not only in international cricket but also in the Indian Premier League (IPL), and the talk and criticism surrounding his form has faded.
Between 2020 and late 2022, Kohli went through a rather tough period. Having shown rich form in India colours since last year's Asia Cup, after a prolonged lean phase with the willow, Virat has now put behind his bad 2022 IPL season with the bat. In 16 matches, he scored only 341 runs at an average of 22.73, with just two half-centuries and the best score of 73. Putting a long dry spell in his career behind him, Virat hasn't looked back since his century against Afghanistan in a T20 international last year. He started the IPL with a bang, scoring three half-centuries in four matches for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and has revealed how he fared when he was struggling on the pitch.
"The most important factor in that whole transnational period before the Asia Cup last year was the fact that I was willing to let go of everything. I was willing to accept that when I go back and play, it might be the last month of me playing competitive cricket and I am absolutely okay with it," said Kohli in an interview with former India cricketer Robin Uthappa on Jio Cinema.
"Everyone was like we observe this and this is the solution for it. I couldn't get the point across that whatever shortcoming is, there is because of this (pointing towards his head). When you are not right mentally, you are all over the place. There were no technical issues because I have done this for 15 years. It can't be that all went to a standstill and the technical issues pop out right now. When I came back fresh and started hitting the ball again and people were like 'oh you made some serious changes'. But I didn't pick up the bat for six weeks," said the former RCB captain.
He holds numerous records in the sport, including most runs in Tests, ODIs and international cricket as a whole. After a wait of 1205 days, Kohli brought an end to his century drought in Test cricket, scoring his 75th international century and his 28th in Tests on March 12.
Kohli said that he felt the need to justify himself by delivering his "absolute best" and he was living with "a facade on top" due to constant expectations of people.
"My past performances did not give me a sense that I could do whatever I want. I felt I needed to justify myself for being there at all times. I need to make sure that I am giving my absolute best and if I cannot do that organically, something needs to change. It felt like I was living with a facade on top, felt made up and unnatural. I wanted to say that I want to live, how I want to live and if that means it is the end of the journey, so be it," Kohli said.
"I met people all over the world and they wanted me to get a hundred to enjoy their cricket. I wondered if my achievements they wanted to see, were to make them...feel happy. I was feeling weighed down even more by this. I was like Man wherever I go, this is the only response I get and I don't have many ppl asking me if I'm okay, or what's going on. But it was like 'We need, we need, we need' at all times. It was difficult to process it and I couldn't be normal at any place. I had these expectations flowing on me from every nook and corner and it became very intense," he added.
At present playing in the IPL 2023, Kohli has amassed 214 runs in four games at a strike rate of 147.58 and an average of 71.33. In the first match, he was unbeaten on 82 runs against Mumbai Indians. He has been in excellent form so far, scoring three half-centuries in four games.