Mohali: India's star batsman Virat Kohli on Tuesday said his prolonged form slump was a bit "annoying", but staying calm and patient helped him overcome the lean phase, which is part and parcel in the career of international cricketers. Kohli marked his return to form with an unbeaten 77 in the last one-dayer in Ranchi against England after a string of low scores which had become a matter of concern for the team.
"I wasn't feeling the same as others might have about my form, to be honest. No one can keep scoring consistently for a period of 16 months. It's always a balance in international cricket. There will be a phase when you don't score in four-five games," Kohli said at the pre-match press conference ahead of the fourth ODI here on Wednesday.
"It was a bit annoying for me as I was not getting out making too many mistakes. I got a few good balls in the last series and made a few mistakes in this series. But, I was pretty calm at that point of time. You just got to be composed. You just know that it is going to happen at some point or the other [return to form]," he said.
India are leading the five-match ODI series against England 2-1 and will look to settle the issue by taking an unassailable lead at the PCA stadium on Wednesday.
Kohli pointed out that working hard regularly in the nets and staying calm and patient was the only mantra which had helped him tide over the lean phase. "When you get frustrated, you tend to increase that lean phase which you are going through. You've got to be positive, which I am glad that I was and was able to come out with that knock in the last game," he said.
India may be on the brink of a series win, but Kohli felt that they cannot afford to be complacent as England have got good players who can "change the game anytime". "They have got good players in the side who can change the game at any time. Even the guys coming in have been impressive," he said.
Kohli felt that the Indians had played better cricket in the last two one-dayers enabling them to take the lead in the series, but at the same time he knew that they will have to play well to beat the visitors. "There are two more games to go, we will have to play consistently to beat them," he said.
Kohli said while the bowlers had done well in the one-dayers, the batting unit has done well only in the previous two matches. "Hopefully, we will try to maintain that and do it consistently. It is essential that batting unit fires consistently as bowlers have done well in all the three matches and effort will be that batting complements that," he said.
He felt that batting at number three slot suited him. "I think batting at number three has been working fine for me. I wouldn't know too much about lower order because I played a few games when I was new. This position [No. 3] I like the pressure situation and I like to finish things as well, it gives me sort of right platform to do the job for the team. It suits me well. I think No. 3 is the position that works best for me," he said.
Kohli was full of praise for young England batsman Joe Root and said he has a bright future ahead of him. "From what I have seen him bat in Nagpur in the first game he played, he seems to be a guy who has got the temperament to absorb the pressure and sort of work it out and get through that situation."
"He [Root] has a bright future ahead of him. That really counts in international game. It is not mere technique or the sort of foot movement you have, it is about temperament. I think he has got it in him and I wish all the best for him in his career," Kohli said. "From what we all have observed ... James Tredwell [offspinner] is another guy who has done well in the bowling department."
On why England had failed to put up a good performance in the one-dayers so far after winning the Test series, Kohli felt that Indian bowlers were able to create good pressure on their batsmen and forced them to make errors. "But if you consistently put pressure on the batsmen and if the wicket is a bit slow and it turns and you have to play shots, it gets a bit difficult. It's been a combination of our bowlers bogging them down and English batsmen playing a few bad shots," he said.
On the Mohali track, he said the pitch always offered something for the bowlers. "It's always been a lively wicket. It's always been a wicket with hard surface and a bit of grass in it. Always helps the bowler a bit and with two new balls coming it's going to be a bit challenging for the top order. It is that sort of wicket where you need to get your eye in and then you can play shots at will. It's going to help the bowler early on and first 10 overs are going to be crucial."
On Yuvraj playing at his home ground, he said, "He [Yuvraj] is very glad to be here. Obviously MS Dhoni was very happy playing first game in Ranchi. Obviously, everyone gets excited playing at his home town, hope he puts up a good show on his home ground. This game is really important, we have to step up and treat it like that ... We have to gear ourselves up. This game becomes all the more important.”