Don`t play square off the wicket: Coach`s advice to Virat Kohli

New Delhi: Virat Kohli`s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma has advised his ward to "avoid playing strokes square off the wicket initially" in order to counter the swing, saying it would help him get back to form with a bang.

"Virat has six Test centuries and is too good a player to be kept quiet for a long time. I am having regular chats with him and have advised him to cut down on shots square off the wicket initially. He should concentrate on playing within the `V` as it will help him counter the swing and seam movement easily," coach Sharma told PTI today.

India`s batting mainstay Kohli has so far scored only 34 runs in four innings with a top score of 25.

Asked any specific shot that he has told Kohli to cut down on, Sharma replied, "I told him to avoid playing the flick shot initially when the ball is swinging. He doesn`t need to change anything in his batting. Just play straight and the big knock is just round the corner."

For 49-year-old Sharma, who has played first-class cricket for Haryana, Kohli`s lack of runs hasn`t bothered him as he feels it`s more about good deliveries rather than poor shots that has brought about his downfall.

"Yes, I would have been worried had he been out playing a rank bad shot in these innings. But that has not been the case. He has got out to some extremely good deliveries bowled by top class Test bowlers. Take the Jimmy Anderson delivery in the first innings of the Lord`s Test. The ball swung in and then shaped away after pitching. Nine out of 10 batsmen would be out facing such delivery. It was a quality delivery," the coach explained.

Sharma also spoke about his second innings dismissal where he was out shouldering arms to an incoming delivery from Liam Plunkett.

"If you have an idea about the Lord`s ground, Plunkett was operating up the slope. When someone is coming uphill, you don`t expect the ball to cut back sharply as it did. Just like a batsman wants to score, ditto for bowlers. You will bowl good deliveries at this level but Virat is good enough to have an answer for these deliveries," he added.

The coach feels that after stupendous success across all formats in last two to three years, there was bound to be a lull, as every cricketer goes through that phase.

"Yes, he is also encountering the Law of Averages. Each cricketer has to go through this phase. This tests one`s mental strength and I don`t need to tell you guys that Virat is a very strong kid mentally. He is not someone to get affected by two or three failures," said Sharma, who will be flying to England before the start of the fourth Test at Old Trafford.

On a different note, the coach, who has known Virat since he was 10 years old, said that the cricketer`s relationship with Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma has not affected his game as the player is aware about his priorities.

"Let me assure one and all that Virat knows what his priorities are. His focus is only on his game. Also he is a 25-year-old boy who knows what he is doing. He is matured enough to handle his personal life. If he feels relaxed by sharing his thoughts with a friend, he is entitled to do that and it will certainly not affect his game," Sharma signed off.

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