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Virat Kohli with his counterpart Steve Smith
Virat Kohli with his counterpart Steve Smith

Aussie Captain Steve Smith’s DRS move continues to make news for wrong reasons

Virat Kohli, the Indian cricket team captain, has insisted that the ‘reviewgate’ controversy is a thing of the past and the focus should now be on the task at hand the third Test in Ranchi, starting Thursday (March 16). On the eve of the game, Kohli addressed the media and said it was a mature decision on everyone’s part to move on from the episode and to bring the attention back on the cricket that is yet to be played in the fourmatch series.

Excerpts from Kohli’s prematch press conference:

On ‘Reviewgate’

See, a lot has been given into the incident, I feel. It’s time we focus on the remainder of the series… is honestly what I feel because there is a lot of cricket to be played and it shouldn’t happen in bad taste. What has happened in Bangalore has happened in Bangalore. We are in Ranchi and we should look forward to tomorrow. Both teams have moved ahead from Bangalore and I think the focus should get back on to the series because the priority here is cricket. All the other things happen in the background. We understand that as cricketers and as I said, what has happened has happened in the past and we need to look forward.

If there are regrets over his statements in the aftermath of the Bangalore Test?

I don’t. I think about what I say. I don’t regret anything that I have said. But at the same time, it is very important not to be stupid and go on about the same thing on a daily basis because there is cricket to be played. There was a decent break in between and we certainly don’t want to sit and think about one issue all the time. We have cricket to play, we have two Test matches to play and that’s what we need to focus on. I think it was a mature decision on everyone’s part to move on from that. We have seen instances in the past [that have] stretched too long and it just causes disharmony and there is no outcome of it, honestly. I wouldn’t say that we are trying to push anything any further but we just need to focus on the two games that are left. I think it is good for everybody that everyone moves on because you will always have two sides of the coin. One side will say one thing, the other side will say another and that just takes the focus away from the game, that we all are sitting here because of. I think it’s in the best interests of everyone that we move on and focus on the game.

Was it appropriate for an international captain to make serious allegations and not provide evidence to substantiate?

Doesn’t matter what the allegation is called…

But it does, because it has to be called something for me to be questioning something about someone to call it an allegation. If no charges were pressed against me, how are those allegations?

On if he stands by his statement that there were two instances of Australia using DRS wrongly while he was batting…

As I said, we need to move on and focus on the game tomorrow. We have got two more Test matches to go. There are two sides of the coin. I could be speaking about another again and things are just not going to move forward. Everyone sitting here has their own interests and choose to ask what they want to. But our focus remains on the game and we need to look forward.

On Smith v Kohli, Lyon v Ashwin individual contests within the big contest…

I mentioned this before, we don’t focus too much on the opposition. Honestly, Ash [Ashwin] didn’t look at it as a reply to Nathan’s eightwicket haul. Lyon bowled well for Australia, he got eight wickets, he deserved to get them. And Ashwin bowled well in the second innings and he deserved to get six wickets. It’s as plain and simple for us as that. Honestly, we don’t look at any of these competitions, it’s not before the series who versus who. I think these are contests that are created to get more excitement on the series, which is fair. But us as individuals, we just focus on what we need to do in certain sessions to win games for Team India and that remains our priority. We don’t get too much into looking at the other guy, how many runs they have scored or how many wickets they have got so far. Just takes the focus away from what you need to (do). That’s not a good mindset to be in and we certainly don’t think like that.

On every team concentrating more on him…

It doesn’t matter to me, honestly, because I don’t start a series saying ‘focus on me, speak about me or write about me.’ It’s not in my control. What’s in my control is what happens on the field. If people choose to write about me or speak about me, that’s their choice. I won’t sit here telling someone to speak or write about me unless they want to, or it interests them. Whether it is criticism or praise, it’s all happened in the past as well. Honestly, these things are totally detached from me. It doesn’t matter who writes what about me or they praise me or they criticise me. It is fine for me. It’s their job, they are doing their job and I am doing mine, as simple as that.

On how he moves on from a controversy like the one in Bangalore…

You move on when you get attached to it. If you don’t get attached to it, you don’t move on. It is not the first time in my life that people have spoken about me, certainly not the last time. I would have done a few things right in my career to be given the opportunity to captain the side. As long as you are honest to yourself, work hard on a daily basis, you are answerable to no one. Everyone has their own opinions. I am not going to challenge anyone’s opinions. At the same time, if someone chooses to challenge my opinion, it is upto him. I am not going to hold a banner and say ‘don’t speak ill about me’. It is a part of the journey. No one plays 1516 years of international cricket without being criticised. It’s fine. As I said, everyone’s job, everyone is making the most of their job and my job is to play on the field.

On whether the long break [between the Tests] was helpful…

Obviously when you win, you enjoy the break. When the results don’t go your way, you think about it could have been shorter and all those sort of things. It is very important to take all off days just normally, if you are part of a series or not. It is important to treat every day as a normal day. Coming towards the end of the season, a couple of more days off after a good result obviously feels nice for the guys to recover and recoup. It has been a very long season for us and last two games to go, which we want to finish on a positive note. The break was timely for us as a side because we played for so long. We played nonstop. I am sure everyone enjoyed the break and I’m sure the focus is back on this match and the next match.

On how easy or difficult it is to read a pitch and predict its behaviour…

I have not come across a cricketer who can see the pitch and predict correctly as to what happens on that particular wicket. I don’t think anyone can predict how much the ball will turn, or how much the ball will seam. Lots of things matter in the behaviour of a pitch… the conditions matter a lot as to how a pitch reacts every day. Weather plays a big part… if it’s too hot or humid, reverse swing comes into play and if the weather is good you won’t get much reverse. There are a lot of external factors, including weather, that influence how the ball behaves. That’s why they say cricket is a complicated sport to understand. You wouldn’t know what happens when. You always have to aware to react to particular situation. As a team we prepare for that. Whatever the situations we come up against, we respond accordingly. But I don’t think anyone can pinpoint that the pitch will behave this way or the other.