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Best innings of my career, says Kohli

Press Trust Of India
Feb 29, 2012 at 11:09am IST

Hobart: Virat Kohli, whose unbeaten 133 guided India to a seven-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in a crunch cricket tri-series match here on Tuesday, termed his 86-ball knock as the best of his international career.

"It has to be the best innings of my career. The kind of situation we were in, chasing 320 and also we needed bonus points, so it was a crunch game and to play an innings like that at the right time, I felt it was a great innings for me," Kohli told reporters after the match.

Asked if the innings will answer his critics, Kohli said it was more about proving a point to himself.

Best innings of my career, says Virat Kohli

For Virat Kohli this innings was more about proving a point to himself than the critics.

"Critics will always be there, the innings was more of proving a point to myself. It was like if you play well, we can take the team to victory. So it really feels nice to play that sort of an innings.

"Before my innings in Perth, I was thinking about what was going on in the media but after that I stopped watching news.

"I told myself to think positive and that there is no good reason not to score runs. I kept believing and I think that was the key," he added.

Kohli's unbeaten knock helped India to not only overhaul Lanka's 320 in 36.4 overs, but also bag the much-needed bonus point to stay afloat in the tournament and the middle-order batsman said the win was very important for the team.

"We looked to get one boundary in an over, keep playing an over at a time, and if you need 100 runs from the last 10 overs, it was very gettable. So we took it as two Twenty20 games," said Kohli.

"Initially, we had the plan to play 10 overs of powerplay. Then the next five we would consolidate and run hard between the wickets and then take the batting powerplay assuming they would take 15-20 overs as bowling powerplay," he said.

"But that didn't happen, they didn't take bowling powerplay. The message came from the dressing room you don't need to take batting powerplay. Just keep playing and keep wickets in hand," he said.

Kohli looked to be in great touch right from the start and that set the momentum for India in the run-chase.

"I told Gautam I can feel I am pretty set. I am confident and I can go for it. I would keep one end positive so we don't lose too many wickets. It's all about communication. One guy needs to keep it solid and the other needs to keep rotating the strike," he said.

The 23-year-old right-handed batsman said he was told by his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni not to throw wickets and try to negotiate the difficult period of his innings.

"In the last game, MS (Dhoni) told me it's probably three occasions when you have been hitting the ball beautifully and you have got out on 20. You are hitting the ball well, you need to stick it out on those tough periods. I kept that in mind.

"I knew even if I was to get 30 runs all edges, might be all singles to third man, I might be driving and edging it every time, I have to stick in, I don't have to throw it away," said Kohli.

Kohli admitted he did not think a lot about this game as he was feeling mentally tired and sad.

"To be honest, it's mentally very tiring. If you are winning, you can stay for five months. When you are not doing well, it's difficult to hold yourself mentally. Physically, it's not that difficult because you have breaks. But to hold yourself mentally is the biggest challenge for a cricketer.

"I wouldn't say I wasn't feeling mentally tired and mentally sad sometimes. But there is no running away from it. Sometimes, if you are not playing well, if you are committing same mistake, you tend to go into a shell, which is really difficult to come out. You need to take that extra risk like we did today to come out of that shell. I am feeling less tired now," said Kohli.

Asked what did he do to come out of the shell, Kohli said, "I did nothing. I didn't talk to anyone about cricket. I got a call from home, someone wanted to discuss cricket, I hung up in 10 seconds. I was like, please don't talk about cricket, please don't tell me you have to do it in the last game because we were not even thinking about it.

"We were trying to be as relaxed as possible. To be honest, we didn't have anything to lose, this was one game for us, we had to give it our all. We wanted to enjoy it as much as possible. I think it's going to lift the spirit of the team, the mood in the dressing room is amazing right now."

Kohli said that his side would now try to be as expressive in the finals, if they make it, as they were today.

"We are going to think each game as last for us. Every game is a do or die for us. We are going to be expressive I can assure you. We are not going to think twice or hesitate.

If we reach the finals, we are going to play like today.

"If this was our last match, it's important for India after the kind of season we had to have a win like this, especially in Australia. I hope we make the finals, if not we take lot of positives, just to reflect what kind of cricketers we are and what kind of cricket we can play," he said.

Kohli's handling of Lasith Malinga was vital to India's chances and he seems to do it regularly against the 'yorker man' from Sri Lanka.

"He's very difficult to get away, once you get on top of it, you make sure it stays that way. They persisted with him even when he gave 24 runs because they knew he could get them wickets. I was hitting the ball well, he was bringing it in, it's my natural shot.

"I probably got the balls in the right areas. I knew he would go for yorkers because he needs wickets. If he doesn't execute them, then I have the upper hand. So I had that in my mind but I stayed very calm at that stage.

"My natural movement is back and across. I don't need to go too deep into the crease. I am anyway back on my crease, on these sort of quick wickets. You need your backfoot play, to rock back on backfoot as soon as possible. I had that in mind all this tour of Australia so my initial movement."

Kohli said he wasn't sure if he would watch his innings which included desperate dives, giving him painful bruises.

"It shows how badly I didn't want to throw it away. Two times I felt like someone had pushed me. You have only one game left to play, so there's nothing you can be casual or lazy. You need to give it all. I haven't watched my batting.

If it is coming on TV I would watch. If everyone is watching, I would watch. I would go with the flow," he said.

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