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‘You don’t show the pressure to your opponents’

Mirpur: The adjectives are fast running out for Virat Kohli. Cracking centuries and half-centuries have now become a habit for India’s batting superstar, who is now being talked about as the next Sachin Tendulkar.

Asked about his match-winning knock against South Africa in the second semi-final of World T-20 on Friday, Kohli said: “I wanted to play an important knock when the team had entered the semi-finals. I was in good form so I thought it is better that I stay till the end. In T20, it is very important that a batsman stays till the end.

“It’s not like how you said that there was no pressure. It wasn’t easy. Pressure was there but it is important that you don’t show it to the opponents.”

Kohli admitted that South Africa were a formidable bowling team. “They are a world class attack and the slightest mistake against them can cost you. I just wanted to stay calm and was keen to back myself,” he said.

When asked why is he able to perform better than others under pressure, Kohli said with a rare smile: “I think anyone in the world does the same things. Cricket is played more between your ears than your technique. If you can be mentally strong, then you can tell yourself to stay at the wicket. Today, till about 20 runs, I didn’t hit a boundary.

“It’s about staying patient and staying calm and not thinking about how many runs or balls are remaining. It is important to back yourself which I think everybody does with time. Once you start scoring runs, you start believing in yourself more. That’s something I try to do and try to keep myself in that zone. There is no secret. Everyone wants to do well, everyone wants to score.”

Kohli then went on to reveal how he targeted South Africa’s star bowler Dale Steyn. “You need to be on top always. It’s important to put pressure on a world class bowler like Dale (Steyn). That’s why the key is to score off the other bowlers so that he doesn’t have too many runs to defend. That’s why if you take six or seven runs off him, when he comes to pick wickets, it’s more frustrating for the opposition. The plan was to not give him wickets. I think we ended up scoring 11 an over off him and that wasn’t the plan at all. Once you start frustrating the opposition and not allow them to stick to their plans, the game starts falling in your way and that’s what we decided to do.”

Kohli then also disclosed how he executes his shots with perfection. “If I am in a good mental space, I can execute my strokes.

I know when to hit sixes and when to hit boundaries, so there is no point trying to slog at everything in the nets – which certainly happens with me when I am playing well. I just go into the net session without planning anything.

“This time I decided I have played a lot of cricket recently and I have been batting a lot, so there is no point having a bad net session and disturbing myself mentally. It is important to keep yourself in the zone and that’s all I do during practice sessions. The plan of those throwdowns is just to keep myself mentally there and not drift away from what I was thinking,” he added.