India’s batting talisman Virat Kohli says a recent run drought had impacted his well-being and that he had been faking intensity to pretend that everything was fine.
One of the world’s best batsmen, in his prime, the former India captain has endured a prolonged lean patch and has failed to register an international century since scoring his 70th in a Test match in November 2019.
After a month’s rest, during which he skipped India’s white-ball tours of the West Indies and Zimbabwe, Kohli will return to action at the Asia Cup and is likely to be part of the team that takes on Pakistan on Sunday.
“For the first time in 10 years I have not touched a bat in a month,” Kohli told Star Sports. “I realized that I was kind of trying to fake my intensity a bit, recently. You are convincing yourself: ‘No, I have the intensity.’ But your body is telling you to stop. Your mind’s telling you to take a break and step back.”
Kohli, who built a reputation for “in-your-face” aggression and exemplary batting, led India to the top of the Test rankings.
“You can get carried away with so many demands nowadays, especially as schedules get piled up again and again,” said Kohli. “I’m looked at as a guy who is mentally very strong, and I am. But everyone has a limit, and you need to recognize that limit, otherwise, things can get unhealthy for you.
“I’m not shy to admit that I was feeling mentally down. This is a very normal thing to feel, but we don’t speak … we don’t want to be looked at as mentally weak.”
Kohli recently became part of a select group of players, including England captain Ben Stokes, who spoke about struggles with mental health.
“It’s not abnormal. Talk about it and discuss it with people. We don’t speak because we are hesitant.
“Trust me, faking to be strong is far worse and that’s something that I’m not feeling any shame for, that I was feeling mentally weak.”