Only Dhoni messaged me after I quit Test captaincy: Kohli

After scoring another half century in the Asia Cup match against Pakistan, Virat Kohli spoke about his respect for former captain M. S. Dhoni for reaching out to him after Kohli stepped down as Test captain in January

After scoring another half century in the Asia Cup match against Pakistan, Virat Kohli spoke about his respect for former captain M. S. Dhoni for reaching out to him after Kohli stepped down as Test captain in January

Virat Kohli has revealed that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the only person, who ‘messaged’ him after he unexpectedly stepped down as Test captain following the series loss in South Africa as the former skipper took a dig at “people” who talk on TV but did not reach out to him to help.

Kohli had quit T20 captaincy as well but the ODI leadership was taken away from him. However, India’s most successful captain relinquishing Test leadership in January caught the cricketing world by surprise.

Speaking to media on a rather eventful last 12 months when he was also criticised for his form, Kohli talked about Dhoni’s phone call and the bond that they share.

“One thing I can tell you is when I gave up Test captaincy, I got a message from only one person who I’ve played with before — M. S. Dhoni,” said Kohli after India’s narrow loss to Pakistan in Asia Cup on Sunday.

“A lot of people have my number and a lot of people give suggestions on TV, but among people who have my number, I didn’t get a message from anyone else,” he said.

After a prolonged lean patch, the former captain has found form in the Asia Cup and struck his second successive half-century on Sunday.

Respect for ‘first captain’ Dhoni

Kohli has immense respect for his ‘first captain’ Dhoni and it was evident in his response.

“When there’s respect and a connection with someone, when it’s genuine, it looks like this. Because there’s security at both ends. Neither was I insecure with him nor was he insecure with me.

“All I can say is if I want to tell someone something I’ll reach out individually, if the help is needed. If you give a suggestion in front of the whole world, it holds no value for me. If it is something that will improve me then you can do it one-on-one also.”

The former skiper Kohli did not take any name but perhaps he was referring to batting great Sunil Gavaskar, who had said that if he had 20 minutes with Kohli, he would tell him things to do to overcome lean patch.

Ahead of the tournament, Kohli had spoken about his one-month break in which he did not even hold a bat, indicating that he was mentally drained out.

“I’ve played for 14 years, it doesn’t happen by chance. My job is to work hard on my game, something that I am always keen to do for the team and something that I continue to do.

“Everyone’s doing their job eventually, our job is to play the game, work hard, give our 120% and I’ve said it in the past that as long as I am doing that and the team has faith in that, what happens in the change room is the only thing that matters to us, and to me personally.”

Former cricketers talk a lot on television and Kohli is fine with that.

“People have their opinions and that’s absolutely fine but that doesn’t change my happiness as a person. I’ve taken some time away, put things in perspective. It’s given me kind of a relaxation that this is not the be-all and end-all of life.

“I need to enjoy the game, I can’t put so much pressure of expectation on myself, that I am not able to express myself. That is not why I started playing this game.”

Back in form

Having got much needed time away from the game, Kohli has come back refreshed and that is showing on the field.

“I was able to find that excitement back. And when I came here, the environment was very welcoming, the camaraderie with the boys is amazing, the environment in the team is amazing. I am absolutely loving playing at the moment again and I am feeling good with the way I am batting,” he said.

Kohli also had comforting words for left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, who dropped a sitter of Asif Ali in the 18th over when the game was evenly balanced.

“Under pressure, anyone can make a mistake. It’s a big match and the situation was tight. I remember when I first played in the Champions Trophy. Against Pakistan, I remember I hit a very bad shot off Shahid Afridi. Till 5 a. m. next morning, I was only staring at the ceiling, unable to sleep.

“I thought I’ll never get a game again, my career is over. So it’s natural to feel like this. When the team environment is good then you learn from it and when such an opportunity comes up again, you look forward to it, hoping the ball comes to you.

“I think I’d credit the management and captain for that team environment. They’ve created such an environment that the players feel if such an opportunity comes up again, we want it, that moment,” he added.

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