BENGALURU: For three weeks following the tour of South Africa, India skipper Virat Kohli didn’t even lift his bat. It wasn’t easy, given how much he loves the game. But he knew that it was for a greater cause. The break would give his body time to heal after what had been a very hectic season.
About 10 days ago, Kohli hit the nets again and was also among the firsts to arrive for the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s camp that began last week. Kohli believes the break did him a world of good and he is raring to go again.
“I required it. Physically I was having a few niggles. I pretty much went to the tour of South Africa with full intensity. Towards the end, the body obviously took a bit of beating. I understood that I needed complete time off from the game. Three weeks without even looking at my kit bag or bats was a weird feeling,” reflected the RCBskipper.
Kohli wasn’t playing, but he couldn’t help but stay tuned to the sport. “At the back of your mind, you are never out of the game. I was keeping a check on all the scores from around the world, especially with India playing as well. That kept me involved in some way. Physically, I wanted to take a complete break. I’m feeling strong and I’ve been training non-stop for the last 12 days. I feel I’m getting close to peak condition. I’m definitely at 100 percent now; 110 is what I prefer and that 10 will take a little more time,” he added.
For a man who hates losing, being a three-time finalist is frustrating to say the least. That said, Kohli is optimistic about having struck a good balance with the team composition.
“We are optimistic about the season. It’s a very balanced side. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, I don’t think we’ve ever had such a balance. We had balance initially but everyone firing together is also a massive factor. This year, we are not relying only on batting; we’ve got bowling options too. That gives us plenty of positivity heading into the IPL. We know that if we execute our plans well enough, we have cricketers who are experienced and know how to get the job done in the middle. We have faith in all the boys that are in the squad. We understand they have the intelligence level to execute the skills at the required time.”
Strengthening the bowling department, he said was crucial for his team. Another aspect of the team this season is the line-up of their coaching staff which includes the 2011 World Cup-winning India coach Gary Kirsten. Kohli admitted that he had backed the South African to be roped in as a mentor and batting coach.
“I was personally in favour of getting Gary on board. This discussion came up sometime before the auction. I thought it’s a great opportunity for the younger guys to spend time with Gary.”
Speaking about Kirsten, under whom he made his international debut in 2008 – and his relevance in RCB, Kohli said: “I benefited massively from his inputs in the early stages of my career and that certainly made me a better cricketer in those tough times. I had a great working relationship with Gary. In terms of the batting group operating, I think he’s the ideal man to supervise things. He can keep the batting group together which I saw him do at the international level with the Indian team. Having so many big names in the team and how he got everyone together and the team spirit going, I think that was an outstanding factor.”