“I love his aggression. I was no different. I was also aggressive, very different in terms of how we probably came across on the field,” Anil Kumble said when asked how he would deal with Virat Kohli’s temperament and aggression on and off the field.
The question stumped even Kohli. He seemed a bit taken aback at, probably, the directness of it. But the answer from his coach would surely have him delighted.
That Kohli wears his heart on his sleeve when on the field is no secret. The Indian captain is one of the most intense players and it also brings out the best in him. Kohli has been in pristine form for the past few months, and with India playing their first Test in more than eight months, Kumble understands the need for his best batsman to continue playing the way he almost always has.
“I’ll be the last person to curb someone’s natural instincts,” Kumble added. “…but of course, we all know how important it is to be ambassadors of India and be a part of the Indian cricket team. That everybody in the team understands. We will ensure that there is a thin line and that everybody knows that. I won’t certainly curb anyone’s instincts.”
The India captain and coach addressed the media before their flight to St. Kitts on Monday (July 5), to play two practice games on the 9th and 14th of July. The practice games – a two-day fixture followed by a three-day match – will give the Indian side vital exposure to the conditions in West Indies as well as the chance to test out the combinations and arrive at whom to play in the first Test in Antigua on the 21st.
“I think the expectations to win is constantly going to be there for the Indian team,” Kumble said, about the challenges they will face in the Caribbean. “It’s always going to be there, it’s not going to change. West Indies is a tough side, at home they know the conditions there. Yes, obviously, they are in a transition phase and there will be some young West Indian players playing Test cricket.
“Like you mentioned, we are expected to win but the conditions are similar to what we get here at home. We still have two weeks before the first Test, we have a couple of practice games at St Kitts so we will try out various combinations and (give) everyone an opportunity to have a knock in those two matches and decide what’s the ideal combination for us to go with. Only few of them have played in the West Indies, the others have played in the shorter formats not necessarily in Tests, but the experience is there,” he added.
Kumble’s recent appointment as head coach of the Indian side, has got the fans excited. The former captain has already started to make a mark, having introduced a buddy system, simulated training and a drum-circle activity to promote team bonding. A lot has also been said about the positivity and intensity he brings to the camp. For Kumble, he wants his team to think that they can come back and win a match from any situation.