Virat Kohli On Why He Won’t Discuss His Personal Life Anymore

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Virat Kohli is mindful that the golden streak he is enjoying as a batsman and captain could come to an end at any time. And though he hates losing, he knows enough to value it. “Success makes you feel like everything is fine. But failure creates self-doubt, which eventually leads you to understand yourself better. Ninety per cent of what I have learnt, I have learnt from failing.”

None of this means he’s lost the fire; some things can still provoke his rage. Attacks on his girlfriend, for instance. In March this year, he took to Instagram and Twitter to slam trolls for targeting Sharma when India beat Australia in a T20 match (the two were supposedly on a break then). Sharma had been on the receiving end of much online abuse since last year for “distracting” Kohli and was blamed, first for India’s semi-final loss to Australia in the 2015 World Cup and then for his poor performance in the series against South Africa in October. The relentless barrage has made him even more protective of his personal life. Kohli, off the pitch, is now strictly out of bounds for everyone except a handful of friends and family. “I don’t know why people are so intrigued by what we [cricketers] do on a daily basis,” he says. “It’s none of their business.”

In less than a decade since he joined the hallowed ranks of the Men in Blue, Virat Kohli is all grown up. The bad boy of Indian cricket has stealthily turned into one of the best cricketers in the world for no other reason than his limitless drive to learn and be better. Indian cricket is in good hands. Bring out the banners, the snacks, the flags and the whistles. Turn on the television and enjoy world domination.

© Urvashi Pant, ELLE India

Virat Kohli Unhappy With England’s Christmas Break

Virat Kohli: ‘Either they stay the whole tour or we come back for 25 days as well’

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Virat Kohli has expressed displeasure at the Christmas break England’s players will have between the Tests and the limited-overs series in India. Kohli also asked for an eight-day gap between Tests on India’s away tours in the future, and did not sound happy that England, under pressure, were getting time to recuperate between the third and fourth Tests.

“We didn’t ask for the gap, it was part of the schedule,” Kohli said, when asked if the eight-day gap had helped the team after three back-to-back Tests. “Make sure when we go there, we also have eight days’ gap after three Tests and a 25-day gap between ODIs and Tests. We didn’t ask for it, but seeing the long season ahead, it did us no harm. It actually helped us rest a bit, reflect on what we have done in the two games that we have won, and visualise again and come back even more fresh compared to the last two Test matches.

On India’s previous tour of England, they had a five-day gap between the second and third Test, and six days between the third and fourth. The first two and the last two Tests were back-to-back, though a three-day finish in the fourth Test gave them a bigger break before the fifth.

Kohli’s larger objection, though, was to the 25-day gap between the last Test and the first ODI on England’s tour of India. It has been a practice for England to go home for Christmas and return for shorter formats when touring India. Kohli felt it gave them an advantage, one India did not have during their tours.

“Absolutely [England should not go home for the break],” Kohli said. “Or we should come back for a month as well from England. No point we play there for three-and-a-half months and everything we do is in the media’s eyes, even our off time is scanned. I don’t have any news of them enjoying their holiday in Dubai at all. I would like to see the same thing happen. Either they stay the whole tour or we come back for 25 days as well.”

India’s tour of England in 2014 spanned 74 days from their first tour game to the only Twenty20 international. India were away for four months in 2014-15, when they toured Australia for Tests, a tri-nation ODI tournament and the World Cup. Due to Phillip Hughes’ death just before the Tests, the schedule had to be rearranged. India were accommodating in those circumstances: they played practically four back-to-back Tests, and got about a week off between the tri-series and the World Cup.

No schedule is drawn up without the agreement of the BCCI, so this might be one for the bosses in Indian cricket.

Kohli saw the merit of a break. “Very important, even when you go home during the break,” he said. “Honestly, between series, you can’t completely switch off because it will always be there on your mind as to what you have to do in a match. As a captain, you will keep thinking about the combinations you can play, how will be the wicket … But not too much also. It’s important that you enjoy life beyond your profession.

“A lot of times in our country, we look at these things differently, that you have to keep thinking about cricket. But it’s up to you as an individual to weigh how much stress you can take, how much time you want away from cricket, and when do I have to refocus on the game.”

© Sidharth Monga, ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Virat Kohli Gives Nod To Decision Review System

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MOHALI: Indian skipper Virat Kohli on Friday gave a nod of approval to the Decision Review System, after the national team used it for the first time in a home series following years of resistance to the technology.

Kohli described the DRS as “pretty fair” after the first two Tests against England in Rajkot and Visakhapatnam.

India had for years resisted using the DRS over doubts about its reliability following a frustrating trial run in 2008, despite the nine other Test teams adopting the technology years ago.

But the International Cricket Council recently said it had made upgrades to the technology, prompting India to give it another trial run.

“Ya, am pretty happy with it… I think it is pretty fair for the game,” Kohli told reporters on the eve of the third Test in Mohali.

 But he added that it was too early to pass final judgement on the technology.
“I think we need to have a bit more patience with that particular aspect… We will analyse over a period of 12 months as to how we have used it,” he said.
India’s World Cup-winning captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and batting great Sachin Tendulkar have for years voiced scepticism over the technology.

The DRS comprises three main elements — a ball-tracking technology known as ‘Hawkeye’; a high-audio microphone known as ‘snicko’, which detects the sound of a ball grazing the bat or gloves; and ‘hotspot’ thermal imaging which can also determine where a ball makes contact.
© THE TIMES OF INDIA

Virat Kohli’s Interview With Michael Vaughan For The Telegraph

‘People think I’m Superman’ – Michael Vaughan meets world cricket’s biggest star.

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As cricketers in England we think we are quite famous. On a good day maybe one or two people will recognize us in the street and say hello.

Life for Virat Kohli is very different. For a start, he cannot walk down the street. Going out for dinner is akin to a military operation and he tells me he loves the solitude of overseas tours when he puts his headphones on and takes a stroll around a park in Melbourne or London without being mobbed.

How do you handle the adulation of a billion people? Sachin Tendulkar has coped with it since the age of 16 and Kohli admits himself he was once one of those who stood in awe of the Little Master, barely able to speak to him when they first shared a dressing room.

But Sachin was not the only legend in his team. There was Sourav Ganguly, the Prince of Calcutta, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and MS Dhoni – all giants of Indian cricket.

Kohli stands alone now, particularly with Dhoni retiring from the Test arena. His social media accounts total more than 50million followers. Earlier this year ESPN placed him eighth on the list of the most famous sportsmen in the world, one place below Tiger Woods and ahead of any Englishman. His earnings are said to top $60million. The Indian papararazzi follow his every move.

He has moved house in Delhi due to people constantly ringing his doorbell and tells me how he once struggled to live with the adulation before learning to accept it. He still looks forward to the day when it is someone else’s turn in the spotlight.

“I tried to fight it initially,” he reveals. “This country loves comparisons. The moment I started doing well I was already compared to him [Tendulkar] but it is like chalk and cheese in my book. People come up and have debate and say you can break his records. You fight it for a while. You think why me? There are 10 more people in the team why do I have to go through this?

“There was so much persistence from the fans letting them know what they wanted from me. I stood on the boundary and all they say is they want a century from me. But then I realised that over a period of time you set those benchmarks and those standards for yourself.

“It is part of being a cricketer in India. It is part of the package that people love you. If you run away from it, it is going to haunt you, pressurise you and pull you down.

“I started to appreciate it. After a while I thought these people love me, they want me to do well. It is just they have a different way of expressing it. I needed to process it in my head. It is important to have a set of people you connect to and in touch with regularly and not be friends with everyone and out there for everyone.

 

“I have a strong family structure, very close with my family, few friends.

“Those things really matter especially in this country where there are so many distractions, people wanting a piece of you. It is very important to stay close to reality about what actually matters.

“I understand that after 10-12 years this will all go way. The next in line will be the one who gets it. He will go through that and I look forward to 12 years’ time rather than being in it now and getting carried away with it.”

We meet in the India team hotel in Visakhapatnam just hours after Kohli’s side have won the second Test, with the captain scoring 248 runs in the match, the fourth highest tally in a Test by an Indian skipper.

We sit in a boardroom in the executive lounge behind glass doors watched by a handful of England fans, who are concentrating more on their evening beer than Kohli. It is a bit different when he wants to pop of out of the hotel.

“It takes a lot of planning. For dinner you need a police guard in front of the vehicle you are travelling in, then you need to inform people at the restaurant to keep a table in the corner, not have any people close to that table. The main thing in our country is people like to grab you and touch you and feel if you are real or not. I promise you.

“I clearly remember after a World T20 game in Mohali against Australia this year. I felt people were reacting in a different way towards me, they looked at me as if I was walking in a circular light or something.

“I came out of security in the airport and there was this one guy who came up to me. I told security to calm down. He stood next to me and said ‘show me your hands’. I held them out and he touched them and it was as if a flow of current went through his body. I said ‘bloody hell’. I was so embarrassed. I think he thought I was Superman or something.

“When I go away from India I go for a walk alone for an hour. You do get recognised in countries that play cricket but they will wave and walk off. That is nice. That is fine to not have someone barge into your space.

“In India it can be difficult to control it. So when you go to play Australia or South Africa I usually do not make plans with anyone. I just walk around to get a feel of what it is like to just walk down the street. It is amazing. It is the best thing ever. I just put my music on, walk and go nowhere in particular. It is best thing in the world to be able to spend some time alone with myself.”

 

Kohli is 28 and at the top of his game. He is a wonderful batsman and captaincy is bringing the best out of his batting. He has made seven hundreds in 19 Tests and is the epitome of the modern Indian cricketer.

He is super fit, honed by a gym routine that he believes has made him a stronger hitter of the ball and mentally sharper in the field. He is a brilliant fielder, the best I have seen from India. He is leading a young team that he can mould. He wants to win all around the world, and break India’s habit of being satisfied by the odd Test match win overseas. He wants to win series and for this to be the fittest Indian team ever.

“Duncan [Fletcher, former India coach] told me once that he feels cricket is the most unprofessional of professional sports,” he says. “You can have the skill but do not think you need to train as much as a tennis player. But I realised if you want to stay on top playing three formats in this day and age you need a routine.

“You need a set pattern of your training, the way you eat, how healthy and fit you need to be. Being fitter made me mentally stronger. It was like a direct connection.

“It changed in 2012. I had great tours to Australia and scored 180 against Bangladesh and went into the IPL thinking: ‘Wow this is going to be a great season for me’. I wanted to make it my tournament and dominate the bowlers. I really struggled.

“My training was horrible, I ate so bad, I was up until late, I was having a drink or two regularly. It was a horrible mindset. The season ended and I was so thankful it was over. I went home, came out of the shower one day and looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘you can’t look like this if you want to be a professional cricketer.’

 

“I was 11 or 12kgs heavier than I am now, I was really chubby. I changed everything from the next morning from what I eat to how I train. I was in the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day. Working really hard, off gluten, off wheat, no cold drinks, no desserts, nothing. It was tough.

“For the first two months I felt I wanted to eat the bed sheet when I went to sleep because I was so hungry. I was craving taste. I was craving delicious food. But then I saw the results. I felt quick around the field. I would wake up in morning and feel like I had energy.

“From 2015 I changed my training again. I started lifting, snatching, cleaning and dead lifting. It was unbelievable. I saw the result. I remember running after a ball in a Test series in Sri Lanka and I felt more power in my legs. It was, like, ‘wow’. This training is addictive. The last year-and-a-half it has taken my game to another level.

“One of the things I would love is for this team to win series outside India, not just in one place but everywhere we go. For me it is not winning one Test match and saying we made history and then not being able to follow that up. I want us to be the fittest Indian team that has played the game as well.

“That is our goal to be become better people along years of playing together. Friendships to last. Most exciting thing is everyone is young building careers together. If things fall in the right place this could be a great phase for us.”

I am always interested in how sportsmen become who they are. What happened in childhood to make them take up their sport? What are their earliest memories? I remember my first cricket bat. It was a Gunn and Moore Skipper. What about Virat?

“It was RNS Larsons. I bought it from a sports shop. I still have a picture of me trying to bat with it. It was about 1000 rupees and pretty decent for the time. That was one of the challenges, getting the right stuff.

“We were not financially blessed, we could not afford to get stuff we wanted all the time so had limited options and had to make the most of it.

“I think cricket chose me. My memory of growing up is me holding a cricket bat. It is the only game I played. As soon as I got hold of a bat I wanted someone to throw a ball at me for me to smack it. I am lucky that I am the third child in the family so there was not much pressure on me in terms of academics and making sure I got a degree and stuff. I was the one who was pampered because I am the youngest and I took advantage of it.

“I used to play more than my friends because they were the oldest children in their families. It makes a massive difference in India. You can just go out there and I found out more about myself and skill in those years which may not have happened if I had been restricted. My initial memories of knowing India the cricket team was around 1994. I was six. I saw this passion with the crowds.

“They used to pan the camera around and you see people with banners going mad and if they lose they burn effigies, so I was amazed. Why so much interest in this particular game? It grew on me.

“My earliest memories are of watching Sachin bat. Watching his passion for the game, he was very different to everyone else and I would try to copy what he did.”

He remembers first seeing Sachin in the flesh, aged 12 in a hotel but was too scared to talk to him. Sachin was invited to speak to Kohli and the India under-19s team before a tour to New Zealand. “I don’t remember a word he said because I kept looking at him. You cannot express your feeling when you see the person who is the reason why you started playing the game and you wanted to become like him and then he just walks up. Those five seconds were the worst I swear.”

Years later as team-mates he says the hardest thing was telling Sachin he liked a drink. “It is a very Indian thing in front of your seniors you do not want to admit you drink or go to parties. Guys were very strict about it when I was growing up. He asked me for a drink. I said I don’t drink. He persisted. I said I don’t drink. Eventually I said I will have four ice cubes. From then on it was pretty easy.”

Sachin helped him through his toughest time after the 2014 tour to England when Kohli averaged 13.40 and struggled against the swinging ball.

“I came back and went to Bombay for 10 days. I spoke to him. He spent time with me. He said he had watched me in England and he helped me with a few technical things that are important at this level in terms of getting a good stride in, always having intent when playing the ball and never being unsure of what to do at the crease.

“I never had a forward press but he told me you should go forward to a fast bowler like you would defend a spinner. Do it with the same conviction is the only way you can be in a good position to tackle, swing seam or anything you want.

“We ended up speaking a lot during that phase. Those things worked out for me. Then I spoke to him about preparation. I said in Test cricket I see a lot of guys batting in the nets, they want to hit 200-300 balls before the game. I feel I am ready and tend to overdo things because I am so desperate to do well so go away from my routine.

“He told me the importance of mentally staying relaxed. If you do not feel like hitting the ball, don’t hit it. Do not look at other people having a great net session for long hours, go off, try and do the same thing and come out frustrated. That helped me a lot.

“When trying to build a career you straight away try to make sure everything is in sync for you to do well. Sometimes you have to make your own decisions and because he had played for so long, the expectations and consistency made a lot of sense. Form then on I followed what I wanted to do.”

And now others are following him as captain. But the IPL has made cricketers like Virat feel more real to the young players now emerging. The sense of awe has gone. “These guys coming into team now I have played cricket with at some stage in the IPL so they know what it is like not to be nervous or intimidating so that sort of environment is not there anymore. Now we crack a joke or two, take a selfie maybe and then they are fine.”

I think there should be a ‘Virat Cam’ at every Test because he is so animated on the field. He would not make a good poker player. “I am very expressive as a person that comes out on the field and is more to do with the fact I am not in control of all things and I get frustrated. It is something I want to improve on.

“I have curbed down celebrations with milestones [centuries, fifties]. It feels like this is what I am supposed to do so why show much excitement? It is what I am picked to do.”

So, what about England? One nil up after two Tests, India are in control of the series – even if they lost to England from a similar position in the past.

“The Rajkot game was good for us. We were challenged. We knew this England team would show resilience and character and there were alarm bells for us in the first Test. It was good that happened early in the series.

“We can’t afford to play loose cricket with this England team at any stage and we need to tighten the screws if we get a chance. In the second game we did that. We capitalised and got the result we wanted. It has gone well so far but in the past we have let the momentum go away from us. But this team is focused to carry it forward.”

© Michael Vaughan, The Telegraph

Captain Virat Kohli’s Stern Message To Team India: Don’t Drop Catches

Virat Kohli is not amused that India dropped five sitters in Rajkot.
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Indian Captain Virat Kohli has demanded better catching from his fielders after they let England off the hook on the opening morning of the drawn series opener in Rajkot.

Alastair Cook was dropped twice in the first two overs after the England captain had won the toss and opted to bat while 19-year-old debutant opener Haseeb Hameed also got a reprieve, all three chances going down in the first hour.

Cook and Hameed added 47 for their opening stand to blunt India’s new ball attack as England went on to post 537 in the first innings.

Wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha then dropped Ben Stokes twice on the second day and the left-handed batsman went on to punish India by scoring 128.

“’Catch the ball’ — that’s all I can say to sum it up,” Kohli told reporters ahead of the second Test starting on Thursday. “We have caught really well in the last 12-14 months.

“In Test cricket if you don’t take your chances then the game is very difficult to pull back. I think that was the main difference rather than skill or pitch or toss.

“If you take your chances, you have a team five down for a 100 compared to three down for 250. It’s a different ball game altogether.”

Rahul, Vijay to open

India will welcome fit-again opener Lokesh Rahul in the second Test with Gautam Gambhir, who made 29 and zero in Rajkot, set to sit out.

“We had it pretty clear in our heads that KL is our number one choice along with (Murali) Vijay,” Kohli said of the 24-year-old Rahul, who joined the squad having recovered from a hamstring injury.

“When he is fit at any stage, he comes back into the team and we are going to start with him. That was the whole idea behind it. We were waiting for him to recover as soon as possible.

“In the meantime, Gautam got the chances that he got. He played really well in different situations.”

After the draw in Rajkot where India’s spinners made little impact, Kohli expressed his displeasure with the pitch which he thought had too much grass.

“Generally in Vizag the pitch has always been something that helps the spinners. I expect the wicket to do the same,” the 28-year-old said.

“We played a one-dayer here, the spinners got a few wickets here but at the same time the quick bowlers had a bit of assistance early on. It’s a wicket where obviously the spinners will find it nice to bowl on.”

© hindustantimes