Virat Kohli has never been one to shy away from expressing his thoughts. Not to the opposition or his teammates. Former India fielding coach R Sridhar mentions an incident in his book, Coaching Beyond: My Days with the Indian Cricket Team, when the then India Test captain was visibly distraught with him.
It was during the third and final Test against South Africa in Delhi back in 2015, with Kohli having recently taken over as the full time Test captain.
“We already enjoyed a winning 2-0 lead, and by tea on day five, it seemed as if South Africa might succeed in preventing us from scoring a third successive victory,” wrote Sridhar. “With AB putting on a stonewalling act for the ages and receiving support from Hashim Amla and Faf du Plessis on a dead track, South Africa were only five down at the final interval of the series. We were going to give it one final push on a gloomy December evening, but we were also reconciled to a stalemate, if it came to that.”
He continued, “The team talk done with, I slipped into the common area between the teams and started chatting with Prasanna Agoram, the video analyst of the South African side and an old friend. I totally lost track of time. Normally, by the time the players get back on the field for the start of a session, I’d have set up a catching station; I’d be armed with a mitt in case somebody wanted to bowl a couple of warm-up deliveries. This evening, I forgot all that when suddenly I heard someone call out ‘Sri bhai, Sri bhai’ stridently.”
“I froze for a second when I heard the voice from the ground. I sneaked a peek at my watch and my heart sank. I sprinted down the copious steps to the ground, but by the time I was at ground level, the umpires had already walked in and the Indian team was following suit. Virat turned back and finally spotted me. His face was neutral, but he spread his arms wide and shrugged his shoulders. You didn’t need to be an expert in body language to figure out what he was trying to convey,” Sridhar added.
The former fielding coach then goes on to elucidate how Indian bowlers capped off another brilliant display at home, wrapping up the three-match series with a whooping 337-run win at the Kotla.
“The post-tea session was a brilliant passage of play. Umesh bowled superbly, Saha took a blinder leaping to his right, Ashwin got AB at backward short leg and the game just changed in a jiffy. But none of it registered. I was so dejected that I had failed in my duty. It was the last session of the series, and I had taken my eye off the ball. When the captain looked at me in disappointment, the first thought that occurred to me was that I must walk away from the Indian team, quit my job. I am glad to this very day as my I chose the more constructive option, of treating every day as my first day at the office, no matter what.”
Sridhar was appointed as the India fielding coach in August 2014 and his association with the team lasted till November 2021.