For the first time since stepping down as India's captain from all formats, Virat Kohli addressing a press conference came as a breath of fresh air to everyone. Shortly after Pakistan defeated India by five wickets in the Super 4 match of the Asia Cup 2022, to everyone's surprise, it was Kohli who came to attend the press conference.
All this while, Kohli, India's most successful Test captain, had kept away from the media, not revealing anything about what went behind his decision to step down from the position barring a social media post following the series defeat in South Africa. Finally, on Sunday, Kohli did shed some light on what transpired after he resigned as India's Test captain in January.
A lot has been spoken about Kohli in the last few months.
From stepping down as India captain to battling ordinary form, Kohli has seen it all. He struggled in the IPL and in England before the star India batter decided to take a break. And so far, based on what the world has seen since his return to top-flight cricket, Kohli is slowly and steadily rediscovering the touch that made him a force to reckon with. Kohli has spoken, albeit restrictedly, on the mindset he was in when going though the recent lean period, but when asked about what he felt about all the noises he heard from outside, the former India captain made a revelation that left all journalists and reporters equally stunned.
"I can tell you one thing. And that is when I left Test captaincy, I got a message from only one person with whom I had played earlier, and that was MS Dhoni. This is when many people had my number. A lot of people gave suggestions on TV, and they have a lot to say but for all those who had my number, no one messaged me. So the thing is, when there is respect when you have a connection such as this, it shows because there is security both ways. I don't want anything from him and neither does he. I have never been insecure of him and neither has he," Kohli said during the press conference.
"All I can say is that if I have to say something about someone, I reach out to him individually. If you give suggestions in front of the world, there is no value to it as per me because if it means to me and for my improvement, you can reach out to me one on one as well, like 'I genuinely want that you do well. I live with a lot of honesty, so I can see these things. I won't say that it doesn't matter to me, but I can see the truth. That is the way I live."
This seems to break the suspense behind Kohli's random yet heartwarming tribute to Dhoni ahead of the Asia Cup. So far, since his return, Kohli has ticked all the right boxes. He scored an important 35 against Pakistan in India's Asia Cup opener and followed it with back-to-back half-centuries against Hong Kong and Pakistan in the next two games. In fact, Kohli's 60 off 44 balls was his most convincing knock of the Asia Cup and it was visible when he kissed the India badge on his jersey upon reaching his fifth off 36 balls with a six. Back in form, Kohli gave an indirect response to his critics, saying that if there were people who generally cared about him, would have reached out to him directly than make statements about his form in public.
"I've played for 14 years, it doesn't happen by chance. My job is to work hard on my game, something that I am always keen to do for the team and something that I continue to do. Everyone's doing their job eventually, our job is to play the game, work hard, give our 120 percent and I've said it in the past that as long as I am doing that and the team has faith in that, what happens in the change room is the only thing that matters to us, and to me personally," he said.
"People have their opinions and that's absolutely fine but that doesn't change my happiness as a person. I've taken some time away, put things in perspective. It's given me kind of a relaxation that this is not the be-all and end-all of life. I need to enjoy the game, I can't put so much pressure of expectation on myself, that I am not able to express myself. That is not why I started playing this game.
Ahead of the Asia Cup, Kohli had admitted how he did not pick up the bat while he was away from the game. In a startling revelation, Kohli said that for the first time in a long while, there were times when he did not feel like training or practicing, which took everyone by surprise. But now having returned to the team after a six-week gap, Kohli is fresh, re-energised and on the way back up.
"I was able to find that excitement back. And when I came here, the environment was very welcoming, the camaraderie with the boys is amazing, the environment in the team is amazing. I am absolutely loving playing at the moment again and I am feeling good with the way I am batting," he concluded.