Mumbai: After struggling to get going in his debut Test series in the West Indies earlier this year, Virat Kohli said he had decided to approach his next Test with a mind not clogged with doubts.
"I was tagged as someone who cannot play the short ball after the West Indies tour. When I went in today (Friday) I knew they will throw the short balls at me. I had a blank mind before playing every ball, which helped," said Kohli, after the fourth day's play of the third and final Test against the West Indies.
"Test matches are mental mind games and the more clear I leave my mind the better decision I can make," he added.
Kohli hit his maiden half-century by scoring 52 off 111 balls, besides putting on 97-run stand for the seventh wicket with Ravichandran Ashwin (103), to help India avoid follow-on.
"To a certain extent I thought I got the WI call because so many people took rest. Not having done well there (in the Caribbean), scoring runs again in a calendar year and getting back into the team was satisfying.
"It was a better feeling that you are included as that way you know the selectors and the team management are showing faith in you in doing well in that format. It's a confidence booster," said Kohli.
Stating that it was all about having a good mind set, the 23-year-old said that it was Sachin Tendulkar who told him to prepare normally as he does for other games.
"It's all about having a good mindset. Being in good form is fine but I needed to be in the right frame of mind to go and perform. It was one of those days today when I thought, I am going to get my full stride out and if I can leave from the front foot nothing better. I left them quite well.
"Sachin told me to prepare normally and I did so. It helped," revealed Kohli.
Kohli said the Indian team is confident of wrapping up the game on Saturday.
"Our aim was to get early breakthroughs, which we got. We would have loved to have them four wickets down but that did not happen unfortunately. Tomorrow could be interesting if we could get early wickets. We will try and put pressure on them. Game is still very much alive," he insisted.
West Indies, who led India by 108 runs in the first innings, were 81 for 2 in their second innings with opener Kraigg Brathwaite (34) and first innings centurion Darren Bravo (27) at the crease at stumps on day four.
Speaking on how he got out, the right-handed batsman said though he hit the ball off the meat of the bat he did not get the right elevation, playing close to his body, and got out.
"I decided not to play flick to Bishoo especially. The way I was going and the way the situation was, I was in a good position to make a big score. I middled the ball but did not get the elevation. I wanted to go over the top but got too close to the ball. It's one of those days you tend to get out like that. Cricket is a funny game," Kohli remarked.
The Delhi lad felt Tendulkar, who narrowly missed his much-awaited milestone of 100th international century by just six runs, was needlessly pressurised by the media.
"A lot of people have put unnecessary pressure on him. I don't know why. He has achieved so much and people are making such a fuss about it," said Kohli.
He, however, said that the Tendulkar was pretty relaxed later in the dressing room.
"I was still batting when he came back so I don't know instantly what happened. He was pretty relaxed afterwards. It has happened to him a lot of times.
"Obviously, he will be disappointed on missing out on a ton but he has been around long enough not to get bothered by it. He was pretty relaxed in the dressing room."
Kohli praised his teammate Ashwin, who became only the third Indian cricketer to take five wickets (5 for 156) and score a hundred (103 in 118 balls), after Vinoo Mankad in England in 1952 and Polly Umrigar in the West Indies in 1962.
"He batted brilliantly; timed the ball well. I could see standing at the other end his mind was totally free. He was totally relaxed and pretty much sure of what he wanted to do and reacting to the ball," said Kohli.
"The confidence of his bowling rubbed off. He just came out and started timing the ball very well. We all knew he has batting abilities. He has two first class tons.
"He is in a good space as he has taken wickets (18) in this series. Getting a hundred is always special for a bowler. A brilliant innings and I wish him all the best," he added.
Kohli also added that having Ashwin at the other end, who was playing shots from the word go, helped him settle down.
"It was good to have Ashwin scoring from the other end. I could also take my time and just get myself to spend more time in the middle. It was a very good innings from him."
Kohli said having played well at the same ground during the World Cup final, which India won after beating Sri Lanka, helped him.
"I love playing in this ground; totally love the atmosphere. Something about this ground when I enter makes me feel good. It's one of my favourite grounds. Starting from the World Cup final, spending time in the middle in a pressure situation, keeping calm helped me a lot. It obviously helps if you had done well in pressure situations at the same ground," he said.