Virat Kohli recalled an anecdote involving his predecessor MS Dhoni on the eve of India’s third Test Cape Town. “MS Dhoni once told me that if you make a mistake, be sure not to repeat that (the same mistake) for seven to eight months. That lesson has stayed with me.”
What Kohli also meant, by recalling that conversation with Dhoni, was to bear in mind never to forget mistakes in a hurry. The more one ends up remembering them, the more one is unlikely to repeat them.
It’s a lesson that Kohli is now imparting to the young Rishabh Pant, nine years his junior.
In the second innings of the second Test at the Wanderers, Pant got out to a rash stroke off Kagiso Rabada – South Africa’s No. 1 bowler. For a batsman who didn’t mind reverse-sweeping Jimmy Anderson at Motera or coming down the pitch at the Gabba, midway through a crucial innings, to loft Lyon for a six over long-on just after surviving a stumping chance, brashness has come easy.
“We spoke with him during training. He will learn, going forward,” the skipper said.
Pant has suffered a troubled stint in his last 13 outings – 4, 41, 25, 37, 22, 2, 1, 9, 50, 8, 34, 17, 0. He’s due for a good knock and the team management is backing the young man.
“The batter knows if you played the right shot or not, as long as the individual accepts that responsibility. We have all got out to loose shots for various reasons and it is important that we find out why we did that,” Kohli said of his wicket-keeper-batsman.
The skipper also backed Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane, two among the senior-most batsmen in the team, to come good and insisted that any kind of transition within the team cannot be forced.
“I can’t pinpoint when we’ll have a transition in the team. The way Pujara and Rahane batted in the last Test – that experience is priceless for us. . . I feel transitions do happen, but they happen naturally, you can’t force them,” Kohli added.
With him coming back into the side, and Siraj’s replacement being the only change to consider, Kohli will lead a full-strength India into the Cape Town Test, the final bastion for this team as it hunts for Test glory.
The skipper admitted that it’s always good for a side to have a problem of plenty – the constant headache of deciding which two batsmen to play among the available four in the middle-order, which pacer to choose in a pool of three to make up for one’s absence.
“But I’m happy being in this position,” he said, clearly sounding the bugle ahead of this deciding Test.