MUMBAI: Virat Kohli has been urged by Sachin Tendulkar to keep his focus and let his “heart guide the way”, after his brilliant batting display in last week’s first Test fell short of delivering an Indian victory at Edgbaston, reported Cricinfo.
In a match in which no other Indian player reached a half-century, Kohli made a brilliant 149 in the first innings, before leading his team’s push towards their victory target of 194 with a further 51 in the second.
However, his dismissal on the fourth and final morning proved to be the defining moment of the match, and in the wake of India’s 31-run defeat, Kohli came under fire in the media – most notably from the former India captain Sunil Gavaskar, for failing to recognise that his lesser team-mates needed more practice than he did.
Nevertheless, Kohli’s efforts at Edgbaston lifted him above Steve Smith to the top of the ICC Test batting rankings. It was the first time in his career that he had attained the No. 1 ranking and the first time that any Indian batsman had achieved the feat since Tendulkar himself in 2011.
“I would say, just continue, he’s doing a fantastic job so just continue,” Tendulkar told ESPNcricinfo. “Don’t worry about what’s happening around you, keep your focus on what you want to achieve, and let your heart guide the way.
“Along the way, there will be plenty of things said and done, but eventually, if you are passionate about what you want in life, then the results will invariably follow.”
Speaking at the launch of the Tendulkar Middlesex Global Academy in North London, Tendulkar acknowledged that – in spite of the disappointment of the final result – Kohli deserved to be immensely proud of his personal achievement at Edgbaston, in particular, the manner in which he atoned for his disappointing maiden tour of England in 2014 with a century at the first opportunity.
However, he also warned that there could be no resting on any laurels for Kohli, now that he has scored that maiden Test hundred in England, one of the clear goals of his career.
“I can tell you from my own experience, however many runs you score they are never enough,” Tendulkar said. “You want more runs, and that is the case with Virat. However many runs he scores, it will never be enough for him.
“The downfall starts when you are satisfied. It’s nice to be happy, but never be satisfied when you are a batsman. Bowlers can only get ten wickets, but batters can go on and on, so don’t be satisfied, just be happy.”
The circumstances of Kohli’s maiden century in England were far removed from those of Tendulkar’s, way back in 1990 when as a 17-year-old, he scored his first Test hundred against any opponent to save the second Test at Old Trafford and win the Man-of-the-Match award.
“Until then I hadn’t attended a press conference, so everyone in the dressing room was saying they are going to grill you!” he recalled. “I was most scared, but it wasn’t that bad, everyone was very friendly. But there was one question, ‘will you open the bottle of champagne?’, and I was only 17, so I said no way, I’m not going to do that now!”
There will be no-one quite as young as Tendulkar was back then when England and India reconvene at Lord’s this week for the second Test. However, with the 20-year-old Sam Curran producing a match-winning all-around performance at Edgbaston, and Surrey’s Ollie Pope in line for his Test debut at the same age this week, the question of when to blood young players is once again a hot topic.
Tendulkar, however, is unequivocal. “If somebody is good enough, they should play for their country, it’s as simple as that,” he said. “Age shouldn’t be criteria.
“When I played my first game [against Pakistan in 1989-90], I was only 16, and in a way it helped,” he added. “I didn’t know what it was like to face Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Abdul Qadir, possibly the best bowling attack in the world.
“You are fearless, you only see one side of the coin. With experience and maturity, you start to see the other side of the coin as well, and you learn to balance things out.
“That is the age when you only go out and give your best, and that is what I would ask both these guys to go out and do. Enjoy the game because there will be tough moments, but that is what you practice for, that is what you live for.”