Star batter Virat Kohli endured a prolonged lean patch and failed to score an international century for about three years, with his batting form under intense scrutiny. The 33-year-old Kohli rested during the recent white-ball tour of West Indies and Zimbabwe before returning to action in the Asia Cup 2022, where he shrugged off his extended dry run with the bat to score two successive fifties and then an unbeaten 122 off 61 balls. The wait for his 71st international ton ended after a gap of 1,020 days as his maiden T20I hundred fired India to a crushing win over Afghanistan in Dubai.
As Kohli touched the three-figure score, he celebrated the milestone with a wave of the bat and a smile before taking off his gloves to kiss his wedding ring. “To be honest I was shocked that a century will come first in this format after a long time,” said Kohli, who was visibly happy after the innings as if it took some pressure off his head.
Media scrutiny plays a big role in a cricket-heavy nation like India, where players often become heroes and villains in crucial games. BCCI president and former India captain Sourav Ganguly revealed how he tackled scrutiny during his 16-year-long career, with its fair share of ups and downs.
Ganguly, who appeared on “The Ranveer Show” on Youtube, said he would not be bothered by “half of it”. He recalled how he used to ask the reception to not put newspaper under his door.
“Everybody has been under media scrutiny. Just the names keep changing over a period of time,” Ganguly said. “Half of it I won’t get to know because I wouldn’t read so much. I would enter hotels and the first thing I would say at the reception is, ‘Boss, don’t put the newspaper under my door in the morning’,” he revealed when the host asked him how he reacted to being “targeted” in the news.
“But now it’s obviously a lot more. Social media, everything is on your computer, on your phone. But I think cricketers find a way to just shut that off,” he went on to say.
Talking about mental health, Kohli recently spoke about facing a tumultuous phase where he attempted to “fake intensity” to put up a brave front. He revealed he did not touch a bat for a month for the first time in 10 years post the England tour.
“For the first time in 10 years I have not touched a bat since a month,” Kohli told Asia Cup broadcasters Star Sports.
“I came to the realisation that I was trying to fake my intensity a bit, recently. ‘No, I can do it competitively’ and convincing yourself that you have intensity but your body is telling you to stop.”
In the past, Kohli tended to be bullish to conceal his wretched form but an extended break from the game offered him a fresh perspective.
“I’m looked at as a guy who is mentally very strong, and I am,” Kohli said. “But everyone has a limit, and you need to recognise that limit, otherwise things can get unhealthy for you.
“It’s not abnormal. Talk about it and discuss with people. We don’t speak because we are hesitant and we don’t want to be looked at as mentally weak.”
“Trust me, faking to be strong is far worse and that’s something that I’m not feeling any shame for, that I was feeling mentally weak,” he added.