In the last decade, the Indian captain Virat Kohli has been unstoppable in all conditions, often leaving oppositions scratching their heads.
However, in recent years, Kohli’s shortcoming against spin has been exploited by the likes of Rashid Khan, Adam Zampa, Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali.
One of the chief architects to exploit Kohli’s shortcomings against spin was former England spin consultant Saqlain Mushtaq, who mentored the likes of Rashid and Moeen until the 2019 ODI World Cup.
The former Pakistan spin-wizard, Saqlain has now opened up to the advice dispensed to the English spin duo, while bowling at arguably the greatest batsman of the current era.
“Yeh Ek nahin, yeh gyarah hai. I would just tell them Virat’s wicket is like bowling out the entire Indian team. He is like XI players in one, you have to see him like that,” Mushtaq told Nikhil Naz in an Instagram Live chat.
“As a bowler, you have to be clear in your mind. Yes, you have a world-class player who is at the top of his game and does not face any issue against any type of spinner, be it left-arm, offie or a leggie.”
“But I would tell them the pressure is more on him not you, as the whole world is watching him. You have to be clear in your mind.”
Clearly, Saqlain’s advice worked like a charm for the English team as the two spinners dismissed Kohli six times each, thus far.
One of the dismissals involved Rashid outfoxing Kohli with a square-turner during the 2018 Headingley ODI. The delivery pitched outside the leg stump and clipped the off-stump, bamboozling Kohli with flight and turn.
Mushtaq tagged it as ‘Virat-wala delivery’ and frequently encouraged him to bowl them while practising in the nets.
“It was a wide ball and had a lot of drift and clipped the bail. I would tell him to bowl Virat-wala delivery so that he keeps producing that at the nets,” he described.
“It’s about putting your soul into the ball. Yes he’s the No 1 player in the world. But if you put your plan, imagination, feeling and passion into the ball, you are no less,” the 43-year-old added.
“As the No 1 batsman, he will have an ego. If you bowl a dot ball to him his ego will get hurt. And if you trap him and get him out, he will be really sad. It’s a mind game, you have to keep your standard high,” concluded Saqlain.