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Virat's mental strength makes him more effective.

ONE of the most fascinating and interesting part in cricket is to try and understand a cricketer's mind. The goal naturally for each one is to play for the country and be extremely successful. The journey however, has many ups and downs. Apart from developing one's skill as a cricketer, the environment of a family, financial needs and one's form play a significant role in the final outcome.

It was therefore interesting to read Virat Kohli's comment about the mental drill of visualising the strokes against the bowlers he will be facing, which he does before a game. This is not something unique which only he does as mental preparation is essential at every level and stage in a cricketer's career. Sachin Tendulkar also stated that the night before an important game, sleeping well was not possible as the anxiety and anticipation of the match had him dreaming about it the whole night. In the earlier days, unfortunately, this was not possible, as without the technology, television feedback etc., most batsmen had the first feel of the bowler only when out in the middle.

JP Duminy, who plays for DD in the IPL, in spite of his nervousness, managed to hit the winning runs off the very last ball.

This, therefore made me think, as to what could be the secret force that makes one's mind and body move as a sheer reflex action while facing a bowler in such a situation. Luck at times is important, but at the end it is the mental strength that differentiates the best from the good.

The feeling of butterflies in one's stomach is always there from the first day you go into bat in a school match. How one can overcome it quickly is what modern training is focusing on, as each player has a different mindset.

One therefore marvels at some of the players who show no nerves at all. Kapil Dev to me was a prime example and so were Ian Botham, Garfield Sobers, Virendra Sehwag and Viv Richards.

With hard work and practice they became superstars and Virat Kohli has the blend to be one of them. Time will tell, but for him to be able to analyse his mental thoughts, emotions and approach show the progress cricket has made in sorting out a major concern for a sportsman -- mental strength.

( The writer is a former Test cricketer)

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:May 4, 2014
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