The prolonged lean patch did take a toll on Virat Kohli’s “mental health” as the former India cricket captain admitted to not having touched the bat during the month-long break prior to Asia Cup.
Kohli has been out without an international hundred for nearly three years, but his poor run of form did affect him as he revealed that at times he was “faking intensity” in trying to show that he is an epitome of mental strength.
“I am not shy to admit that I was feeling mentally down,” the former India skipper told Star Sports in an episode of “Virat: Heart to Heart”.
Also Read: Asia Cup: Virat Kohli will be mentally and physically fresh, says Watson
Following the tour, Kohli took a break, skipping two white-ball series in the West Indies and Zimbabwe.
“For the first time in 10 years, I did not touch my bat for a month. I came to a realisation that I was trying to fake my intensity a bit recently,” Kohli said.
“I was convincing myself that no, you had the intensity. But your body was telling you to stop. The mind was telling me to take a break and step back.”
Mental health issues are a reality and just like Ben Stokes said in his docu-series, Kohli also spoke about the need to not keep the feelings bottled up. “This is a very normal thing to feel, but we do not speak because we are hesitant. We do not want to be looked at as mentally weak. Trust me, faking to be strong is far worse than admitting to being weak.”
Kohli’s last international century came during the pink ball Test against Bangladesh at the Eden Gardens in 2019. The highest score in his last five matches, including two ODIs, two T20Is and a Test, was 20 in India’s loss to England in the rescheduled fifth Test.
Also Read: Can’t compare Babar Azam with ‘great’ Virat Kohli yet: Wasim Akram
Kohli, who has relinquished his captaincy at Royal Challengers Bangalore, also had a quiet IPL-15, scoring 341 runs from 16 matches at an average of 22.73. “I am looked at as a guy who is mentally very strong and I am. But everyone has a limit and you need to recognize that limit, otherwise things can get unhealthy for you,” he said.
“This period taught me a lot of things that I was not allowed to come to surface. When they eventually came up, I embraced them.”
Kohli will now return to action in India’s Asia Cup opener against Pakistan on August 28. “I want to make my team win at any cost and if that means I am gasping for breath when I walk off the field then so be it,” he said.
“I mean that is the kind of preparation I go through to be able to play like that. Wo naturally nahi ho raha tha aur mujhe push karna pad raha tha (I was not able to get that high intensity naturally, I was pushing myself to do it). But I just did not know it,” said Kohli.
Also Read: What on earth happened to Virat Kohli
On his high-intensity approach on the field, Kohli said: “People ask me a lot, how do you do this on the field and how do you carry on with so much intensity. I just tell them I love playing the game and I love the fact that I have so much to contribute to every ball, and I will give every inch of my energy on the field.”
(With inputs from agencies)