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With two fifties in the Asia Cup, Virat Kohli taking steps in the right direction

Virat Kohli needed to rediscover his love for cricket and the very reasons he picked up a bat in the first place as a toddler. The recent break he took from international cricket seems to have facilitated this.

With two fifties in the Asia Cup, the second one on track to come at a rapid pace before wickets at the other end forced Kohli to steady things towards the end of the innings, the cricketing indicators are in place to show that he is taking steps in the right direction. But, more than that, it was Kohli’s first press conference since he stepped down as Test captain, that was a giveaway.

Even when he was at the height of his powers, scoring runs at will, Kohli was testy at these appearances. He would take umbrage at certain lines of questioning, react to imagined slights and generally the atmosphere was adversarial. After India’s second Asia Cup tie against Pakistan, Kohli was a picture of calm, allowing himself to smile even, despite the fact that India had lost.

When asked who had stood by him during his tough times, Kohli provided insight. “When I left Test captaincy, I got a message from only one person, with whom I have played previously — that was MS Dhoni. Many people have my number, but no one sent me a message,” he said. “That respect, that connection you have with anyone, when it is genuine, it shows in this fashion because there is security at both ends. Kohli also revealed that the team had now come to grip with the fact that attempting to push the envelope in T20 batting would occasionally mean losing wickets in a clump.

“If you’ve seen the way we’ve been playing, it’s given us the results we need, and in our middle overs, the run rate has also improved,” Kohli said of India’s new approach. “It’s something I, as a batsman, really took keen notice of, and I knew that is one area we need to keep improving on. We’ve spoken about this that sometimes it won’t come off, the way you want.”

For batsmen as good as Kohli, making technical changes is often not the hard part. What is difficult is to change the mindset. For a batsman to overcome the fear of losing his wicket isn’t an easy thing, for batting is a oneball game. If a bowler gets hit for a six, he always has the chance to come back and contribute off the very next delivery.

If a batsman loses his wicket, all he can do is watch the game from the dressing room and rue what went wrong. But, Kohli has managed to overcome this. “When I’m happy in my space, then I know what I can do for the team. Me being in a bad space is neither good for the team nor for me,” Kohli said. “I’ve taken some time away, put things into perspective, it’s given me the realisation that cricket isn’t the be-all and end-all of life.”

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