Just a few hours before defeat against Pakistan, Virat Kohli’s mood was upbeat but also close to being engulfed in the maelstrom of the dressing room.
“The dressing room was very close,” said Kohli, after the match. “But the big thing is that during this moment, it was probably the toughest hour for me. I have been able to handle situations before where pressure has been building up but I’ve been able to handle the moments.”
Kohli said the moment when the team walked off the field was “a dark moment”. But through the process of galvanising his team, he promised to lead the team “better”.
On Sunday evening, he did just that. Losing the match made him realise he had let his team down, but that is what the captain needs to do.
Kohli was presented with a steak dinner for the captain and team by Tajinder Singh Johar after the match, and he later teased his captain in the post-match press conference.
But then he said this to Vijay Goel, a reporter from New Delhi newspaper Deccan Chronicle: “Deccan Chronicle?”
When the reporter pointed out that there was a woman in the audience, Kohli quickly reminded him that he was into the tourism industry — explaining that he is in no position to invite women.
Kohli talked at length about the reception to his captaincy, and has repeatedly spoken of how early on in his tenure the media focused on his dressing room bust-ups. He referred to such coverage as “attributing my decision” as captain in all aspects, and pointed out a glaring error of judgement.
“I could have headed straight to the batting lounge,” he said in the press conference.
“But then, the discussion in the dressing room will also bring out different opinions that I would not have wanted to face.”
Kohli said he was not offended by the coverage, but said it was imperative that the media ask tough questions. But that reporters should not exaggerate the impact of the controversy on his decision making, or the team’s performance. He said there were other issues before the Australia series, where India were beaten, and that teams were made up of individual choices.
“Each man made a different choice,” Kohli said. “The only way of handling it is firstly understand what led to the outcome. The criticism is fine, but coming up with 180 individual problems is something that is not good for cricket.”