Guerilla Cricket exclusive: when the numbers didn’t add up – how coach helped King Kohli reign again

1, 8, 25, 0, 39, 28, 0, 7, 6 and 20. Average 13.50.

Unbelievable as it may seem today, those numbers belong neither to Jasprit Bumrah nor Ishant Sharma. Instead, as the Indian team left the British Isles in 2014, those were the numbers that appeared on the tour sheet, next to the name of Virat Kohli.

Talking to Mark Nicolas recently, Kohli would say: “You just don’t understand how to get over it. That was a phase when I literally couldn’t do anything to overturn things…I felt like I was the loneliest guy in the world.”

With mental health still rather a taboo topic in India and indeed in cricket, Kohli had no one to turn to. The solution was to store the loneliness and fear within himself and do what he did best – score runs.

And score runs he did. 692 of them on the tour of Australia that followed a few months later.

The story of how this remarkable turnaround came to be is one that demonstrates the value of a good mentor. In Kohli’s case it happened to be his U-19 coach Lalchand Rajput, then then head coach of the BCCI batting academy in Mumbai.

On his return to Mumbai, Kohli would make a fateful phone call to Rajput asking for assistance. As Ian Chappell revealed recently, it was the 15 days that Kohli spent with Rajput that identified and fixed the chinks in his armour. A transformed Virat Kohli is what the world saw emerge from that stint.

I caught up with Lalchand Rajput recently to talk about what happened for the first time ever about that time and how he fixed the technical issues that Kohli was grappling with. Here is the video of that conversation.

Broadcast Schedule

England v Pakistan 2024 T20 series
1st T20, ENG v PAK, Headingley
22nd May
Start time: 6:30 pm BST