Virat Kohli is the wicket that the opposite side wants when they play against India. The Indian skipper is the centre of all the planning and strategies when sides play against him. Saqlain Mushtaq has revealed the bits of advice he gave to England spinners when bowling to him. Saqlain was associated with the England team a spin consultant till the world cup last year.
Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid who often bowled at Kohli were reasonably successful against him. Even though Kohli has scored a lot of runs against them they have also got him out 6 times each. Saqlain shared that when they bowled against Kohli his advice to them was always to think of getting him out. He believed the Indian captain was equal to 11 players and if they got him out they had the match won.
He is equal to 11 players: Saqlain Mushtaq on Virat Kohli
“Yeh ek nahin, yeh gyarah hai (he is equal to 11 players). I would just tell them Virat’s wicket is like bowling out the entire Indian team. He is like XI players in one, you have to see him like that”.
“As a bowler, you have to be clear in your mind. Yes, you have a world-class player who is at the top of his game and does not face any issue against any type of spinner, be it left-arm, offies or a leggie. But I would tell them the pressure is more on him not you, as the whole world is watching him. You have to be clear in your mind”, Saqlain said in an Instagram Live with Nikhil Naz.
Saqlain Mushtaq also talked about constantly reminding Rashid Ali about the dream ball that he bowled to Virat Kohli at Headingly. It was in the deciding match of the ODI series when Rashid produced a magical delivery to knock Kohli’s off stump. Saqlain called it the Virat-wala delivery and encourage his spinner to practice that in the nets all the time.
It is a mind game
The plan of all bowlers of England was to bowl dot balls at him and create pressure. They used to study every phase of Kohli’s batting and bowl accordingly. Saqlain also stated that he enjoyed his stint with the England team as a spin consultant.
“It was a wide ball and had a lot of drift and clipped the bail. I would tell him to bowl Virat-wala delivery so that he keeps producing that at the nets. It’s about putting your soul into the ball. Yes, he’s the No 1 player in the world. But if you put your plan, imagination, feeling and passion into the ball, you are no less”.
He added, “As the No 1 batsman, he will have an ego. If you bowl a dot ball to him his ego will get hurt. And if you trap him and get him out, he will be really sad. It’s a mind game, you have to keep your standard high.”
“We would study all his batting phases how he starts, builds up and finishes the game and plan accordingly. I had a lovely time with these boys. Indians are the best against the spinners, so you always look forward to playing against them. Against India, you have to be fully prepared and ready to play a long ball. Your blood will sweat and you have to have a strong mind to deal with them”, said Saqlain Mushtaq.