India vs Australia 4th Test: Virat Kohli, unburdened

Sandip G
Virat Kohli poses for a selfie with a fan after a practice session in Sydney on Wednesday. India lead the four-match Test series 2-1. (AP)

Virat Kohli is often a man in hurry. He bounds out to the crease as if charged up for a gladiatorial combat. Between overs, he sprints like he's a matador tussling and trailing a wild bull. Even when he's dismissed, he doesn't fuss around, but strides back to the dressing room. He seemed like a man who feared the raging time - he hardly stopped for fans in Perth, or Melbourne before the Test began.

But here he was, during the net session at the Sydney Cricket Ground, calm and patient like a man unbothered about time, interacting with fans, signing autographs and posing for selfies, as if he's at peace with himself and the world around him. And not the agitated, passionate, revolting man he sometimes is.

It's like the MCG victory has unburdened him, quelled a flaring fire within him and injected a sense of equanimity, without showing the slightest burden of a man shouldering a billion hopes. It began with a spontaneous moment of charity when he donated a pair of pads to a girl in the stands at the MCG. And it continued in Sydney.

A couple of hours later, he walked into the press conference, a bright grin on his face, in an engaging disposition. In more tumultuous times in the series, Kohli had confronted media with the grave face of a man who's about to be persecuted by a bunch of conniving lawyers.

India captain Virat Kohli during a training session in Sydney. (Source: AP)

But here he was, his gaze firm and focused, the fingers still, mood ranging from emotional to philosophical. He can be articulate, but it's the pragmatist in him that often talks.

Not that it was an entirely different avatar of Kohli that spoke - he did slip in his pet words like "intent" and phrases like "controlling the uncontrollable" and kept on emphasising the "need to stay in the present".

But seldom has he betrayed emotions, especially during the lengthy overseas spell, like when he described his return to the SCG, where he officially took over the reins from MS Dhoni four Australian summers ago, and where now twinkles the brightest accomplishment yet of his captaincy career.

"It would definitely be a big series win not just for me but for the whole team purely because of the fact that this is the place where we started our transition, to be honest, in this particular venue when MS gave up captaincy and we had a totally young side staring at six or seven (ranking) in the world and we come back here as the No.1 side in the world and we want to take that legacy forward," he said.

Before he took the next question, Kohli briefly paused, as if his mind still dwelt on the Sydney of 2014.

A touch of nostalgia, perhaps. A touch of disbelief too. He was just 26 then, not yet conquered the world with his willow, and utterly untested as a leader of men. And now he's a batting beast, a machine perhaps, or even extra-terrestrial, and on verge of stamping his captaincy insignia.

In slightly harder times, he would have hardly whipped up nostalgia.

Virat Kohli

Back to reality and some philosophy. So an Australian journalist, keeping with the New Year mood, queries him about resolutions, if any. Kohli turned serious and expounded on the meaninglessness of such rituals: "I think every day can be a New Year's Eve, if you want to be. There are opportunities to look forward to every day, so I personally don't look at these things as something very special and now you have to start working on something. If you want to do something special, every day is an opportunity. For me, it's being able to contribute for the team, being able to stay at the top of my game physically and mentally, and just help the team in any way possible."

Then came Kohli, the friend, to understand his colleagues. In the past, he had conceded a feeling that he wants the entire team to be moulded in his cast -the same steaming aggression and derring-do. That he doesn't understand his colleagues differ, in perception and outlook.

But here he talked about how obsession is subjective.

"With me, it might be seen a lot more but I can guarantee everyone is obsessed about winning in very difficult conditions. If you see after the last wicket fell in the last game, everyone's emotions came out, even the quietest guys, I saw Pujara in the replay after and Ajinkya, I have never seen them so excited," he said.

In so generous a mood was he that he explained his cross-format success mantra: diet, sleep pattern and an obsessive fitness regimen. Not that no one knew it, but Kohli tended to dead-bat such questions. While detailing it, he stumbled on how he perceives his game.

"I believe in backing my technical ability to score in all formats. I am not someone who aims to be the biggest six hitter, as such. I'm happy to knock the ball around in the shorter formats and get runs. ‘Wow, what was that shot!’ I'm not bothered by that."

Then came an admission: That he missed Ravichandran Ashwin, has to alter plans when he's not playing. He generally puts on a brave front when asked about the indispensability of his personnel.

Though soon came the contradiction: That Hanuma Vihari hasn't made the team miss Ashwin much and that he had looked like "picking up a wicket whenever he comes to bowl."

In a way it sums up the duality of Kohli. Albeit a magnetic duality. He wrapped up the interaction with a bit of philosophy too: "It's inhuman or impossible to keep going on without niggles and I think it's fine to have a few niggles here and there."


Yogesh Parmar joins Farhat to fix India's injury woes

Mumbai: The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has approved in-principle the Indian team management's request for an extra physiotherapist in Australia, amidst the spate of injuries on this tour.

The Indian Express learns that Yogesh Parmar joined the team during the MCG Test to help his incumbent Patrick Farhat. "There is heavy workload on Farhat and he is finding it tough to handle so many injury concerns single-handedly.

The team management had requested for a physio, and the board agreed to send Parmar, who will help Farhat," a BCCI source informed.

Opener Prithvi Shaw was the first to bow out after twisting his ankle during a tour game ahead of the first Test in Adelaide. Then there was Ravindra Jadeja's shoulder stiffness that grabbed considerable attention. Ravichandran Ashwin was the next to join the list, after his groin injury flared up following India's win in Adelaide. Despite showing improvement, he was not ready for the subsequent two Tests in Perth and Melbourne respectively.

Ahead of the series finale in Sydney, Ashwin's injury status caused confusion with the team management naming him in the 13-man squad just minutes after India captain Virat Kohli said he "has not recovered on time". -Devendra Pandey