Mirpur, Apr 5: Virat Kohli termed his unbeaten 72-run innings against South Africa here tonight as his "best knock" considering the importance of the match although he said he had batted better than this on several other occasions.
"If you look at the importance of this match (World T20 semi-final), then certainly this is my best knock but I personally feel that I have batted better than this innings on many occasions," Kohli told the mediapersons at the end of India's six-wicket win over South Africa in the ICC World T20 semifinal.
"There has been several T20 innings where I have middled the ball much better than what I did today. There had been instances where I have hit three to four boundaries at the start and my timing was far better. But today, considering the context, this innings will certainly be on top of the list," Kohli added.
On a lighter note he said that getting a chance to hit the winning stroke was a gift from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"Yes, he deliberately did not hit the winning run. He just told me that 'is match mein main tujhe kuch naahin de sakta hoon. Yeh winning stroke mere taraf se gift samajh lena (I can't give you anything for this match. You hit the winning runs as it is a gift from me). Obviously, it is a nice feeling to hit the winning runs and I am grateful that he gave me the chance to hit them," Kohli said.
When someone asked as to why he is never under pressure, Kohli was a trifle embarrassed. "Is that a valid question? Everybody does what is required to do well but I believe that cricket is played more between the two ears. Just like the first 20 deliveries, I did not hit a single boundary but I was not worried about what the dug-out thought.
"I am able to block all negative thoughts. Now this is something that you learn with time as you start scoring runs."
Kohli said that the character of the pitch did not change much during the course of the match although it was "much slower" as per his reading.
"I don't think there was much change in the pitch as there was no dew. Only once the ball got wet when it crossed the advertisement billboards and fell where water was collected."
"Yes, it was much slower and the ball was holding up a bit. It was important for me to maintain my shape while playing the shot. I tried not to reach towards the ball as it was important to absorb the pace of the wicket with the slower deliveries holding up," Kohli said.
For Kohli, the key was to bat for 20 overs and he was happy doing that.
"It might have looked easy from outside but it was not that easy. The aim was to bat till 20 overs. There was definitely pressure but I did not want to show it. Against a quality side like South Africa, it is important that you stay calm."
Kohli revealed India's strategy while countering Dale Steyn.
"It was important to put pressure on Dale but the key was to score as many runs as possible from other bowlers. It frustrated the opponents. So even if Dale comes in to bowl late in the innings, he doesn't have too many runs to defend. You need to know which bowler to hit and which bowler to defend."
He had more than 20 runs in singles and twos in his first 40 and Kohli emphasised on the importance of rotating the strike.
"For me, the singles are as important as the sixes as they keep the scoring rate ticking."
Kohli said that the dressing room was "relaxed" even though the target was a challenging one.
"The dressing room was pretty relaxed. Nothing different was going on. When you are preparing for the game, you don't really feel the tension in the dressing room. But we knew that one guy had to bat through."
The Delhi player also said that he doesn't believe in intense net sessions ahead of important matches.
"I have seen that a bad net session disturbs me mentally. For me it is about middling 10 balls during throwdowns rather than playing 60-70 balls and not being able to middle more than 10 balls. I know how to play cricket shots and I know how to hit sixes and boundaries. It is important to keep yourself in that zone and not drift."