Virat Kohli spends extra hours against spinners on bad tracks
A gleaming jet black Porsche arrived at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium at least half an hour before the Indian team bus was due to arrive. Virat Kohli came out and went to the dressing room. Within minutes he was out, dressed in padded pads and headed for the nets. He wanted extra time to bat and arrived early for a session. He started with the customary throw-downs and knocking out a few net bowlers. Once a young fellow, bowling through the military, was scornfully pulled off his backfoot, asking for spinners.
“Call the spinners,” he said and went to the other nets, where he tackled the spinners.
Kohli looked at the ruff on that practice strip and then used his shoes to create more friction.
Batting coach Vikram Rathour actually pointed out the particular areas where he could indent and let the ball do the talking.
The idea was to counter the natural variation from the surface where you throw the ball into the rough and it can turn either way.
India A regular Saurabh Kumar, the talented left-arm spinner from UP asked some probing questions.
There was also a delivery where Kohli went on the backfoot. The ball did not bounce after being pitched. It was a kind of “shooter” that did not rise. Kohli had a smile on his face and looked at the surface.
There were two off-spinners, net bowlers Pulkit Narang and Hrithik Shokeen, who sometimes tossed and sometimes mixed it up with flatter trajectories.
That day, while driving Shokeen and Narang during that session, he regularly came down the track to cover roughs. He was not very comfortable in the beginning as some of the shots were not far from the flesh of the blade.
Kohli’s struggle against spinners has been real and the Feroz Shah Kotla track will be another slow turner like Nagpur, if not slower. When he tried to maneuver off-spinner Todd Murphy in the Nagpur Test, he was trapped down the leg side.
There was a cover of grass but anyone who has seen how the Kotla pitch behaves will tell you that it is more about maintaining a firm bond to the surface.
But there will be some moisture under the surface in the morning session which will help the bowlers. But Kotla is the kind of track where both scoring runs and taking wickets is a tough task.
Kohli’s desperation to spend an extra hour at the nets and prepare himself to put his best foot forward is absolutely necessary as run-scoring is going to be a struggle.
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