Team India captain Virat Kohli took to the press conference ahead of a monumental clash against England that kicks off the Test series at Trent Bridge in Nottingham. He took on several questions from the media ranging from the opening combination in light of Mayank Agarwal and Shubman Gill’s injuries to his opinions on how to tackle James Anderson. Kohli was also asked about the criticism surrounding Cheteshwar Pujara’s extremely slow approach to batting.
In the recent past, several people have accused the number three batsman of playing too defensively, taking on too many dot balls, and increasing the pressure of keeping the runs ticking on his partner. Pujara’s last Test century arrived in Sydney in 2019.
Captain Virat Kohli has the back of Pujara however. Responding to the question, Kohli said that the criticism of Pujara is completely unnecessary and that a player of his calibre shouldn’t be dragged into those conversations. He also mentioned that the 33-year-old doesn’t care about it.
“It’s been going on for a while. A player of his calibre and experience should be left alone. It should be left to the individual to work on whatever drawbacks in his game, similarly with me and any other player in the team. From the outside, I can say that criticism is unnecessary, but I for a fact know that Pujara doesn’t care. People can say what they want but at the end of the day, it’s just words,” said Kohli.
Virat Kohli also shared his opinion on England all-rounder Ben Stokes taking a break from cricket. He pulled out of the series to focus on his mental health. Kohli, who himself has been through mental trauma before and relied on clinical help to deal with it has always backed the need for athletes to address their mental space. It has also become especially hard during the pandemic when cricketers have had to spend extended periods in bio-secure bubbles separated from the rest of the world.
“Subconsciously, your mind keeps working. You’re used to planning on a daily basis. So it’s important to take a break. You saw Ben Stokes is taking a break.
We’ve been in bubbles for a few months. It’s not easy, so the breaks are important. We can refresh and come back, because being a captain is a stressful job. And you confine us into a bubble, it becomes even more difficult. It’s important to take breaks. We go into this series fresh and optimistic. For us, especially me as captain, this break was important,” he concluded.