The 2014 tour of England remains the toughest phase in Virat Kohli’s illustrious cricket career so far. He was outclassed by the English pacers, especially James Anderson, on that tour and returned with only 134 runs from five Test matches at a dismal average of 13.40.
Speaking to TOI, former India coach Ravi Shastri reflected on Kohli’s struggles in that period, saying the latter was "in a state of shock" and "reeling."
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Notably, Shastri had joined the Indian cricket team as a director after the disastrous 2014 Test series in England. He was later made head coach and served the role until the recently held T20 World Cup in UAE and Oman.
"Once I came on board, my first challenge was to identify someone who could walk the talk and I found in Virat Kohli the guy with the character, game and personality to step into Dhoni's shoes.
"Virat was reeling from that tour of England because he hardly got runs. He was in a state of shock the way things had turned out. But you could see there was still enough there to get him going. Once he was back on his feet, there would be no looking back," he said in an exclusive chat with TOI.
Shastri then explained how Kohli worked on his batting technique and regained his confidence.
"I began watching him very closely. The more closely I saw him, I could see his sense of confidence returning back with each day. Those initial two-three months went in getting to know the team better. We began talking a lot, on various issues - batting techniques, the path forward, lot of things," he added.
Virat Kohli’s next overseas Test assignment was the 2014-15 tour of Australia and he silenced his critics by smashing 692 runs in four-Test series at an average of 86.50, including four centuries.
"And I think, it really came to the surface in Australia, when he finally bought into everything we discussed. He was absolutely ready to walk that talk - not just in the way he played his game but the way we wanted the team to play," Shastri said.
India may have lost that series 2-0 but Shastri felt the team had played well with Kohli at the forefront of it all.
"He set the bar really high on that tour, got four centuries and a fifty. We lost that series 2-0 but I still remember Alan Border walking up to me at the end of the series in Sydney and said: "Rav, well done man. Not many teams bat out the last day to save Test matches at the colosseums, which is Melbourne and Sydney.
"And mind you, this after a close first Test in which he got a hundred in each innings and really cemented the way he wanted to play in Australia - a good, aggressive brand of cricket. The way we went for the chase of 360-plus on the final day of that Test showed what kind of cricket we wanted to play," Shastri said.