Mumbai: India skipper Virat Kohli set the ball rolling at ‘India Today Inspiration’ — a series of conversations with some of India’s biggest sporting legends. Virat Kohli presented an uncut and unfiltered version of himself as he talked on a range of issues from India’s exit from World Cup 2019 to his fitness in a candid chat with media.
From his ability to deal with failures to being thankful for the shampoo commercial with Bollywood actor and wife Anushka Sharma, Kohli has opened up about some of the most important aspects of his life and cricketing career. It was a riveting experience to witness one of the world’s best batsman’s story through a personal lens in the show.
Kohli revealed how the pace quartet of Shami, Ishant, Umesh, and Bumrah like to hang out and cause a laugh riot whenever they are together.
“I think from 2015 onwards my career also grew and social media was growing simultaneously. So what happened was it became very drastic. In the last 3 years, it’s been surprising for me as well. You don’t realize on a daily basis how confined your life starts becoming. That’s why you want to be in your space more and more because the moment you step out of that space you probably have to interact with a hundred people.
It gets difficult accepting and understanding that transition because in my heart I’m still that guy who came from West Delhi and made his way up, so is Anushka, we are both very similar from where we came from. So it’s very difficult for us to understand that transition all the time that’s why we like being in our own space most of the time.”
How Anushka takes out time from her busy schedule to support him
“She is someone who has always maintained her integrity, always been a person who does the right thing. When it comes to our relationship, her taking time to come and see me or me taking time to go and see her, it’s understanding. It’s not an effort for either of us. She understands when she comes on tour. So much has been said about her and so much comes out about her. You have to understand that she is someone who has achieved success at a very high level. She was a superstar even when we met. When these things come out of protocols not being followed and rules being broken, it is not in her nature to do something like that because she understands my profession and I understand her profession. Either of us doesn’t interfere in it. The value system that she has and her beliefs and the nature she has, it won’t allow her to go against rules and protocols. So I don’t know why people have wanted to sensationalize stories by taking her name because she’s a soft target. We both had been ignoring it for a while.”
What attracted Virat Kohli to Anushka Sharma?
“Firstly the most comforting thing was knowing that we come similar backgrounds and we laughed on things that only both of us understood. Because those are the kind of things, you know when you come from a middle-class background, these are the kind of scenarios you have seen growing up. There was a lot of comfort factor immediately. The thing that was fascinating for me the most was how relaxed and how chilled out she was for who she already was at that stage. You know how welcoming and comforting she was and how was approachable she was. Immediately we just really became friendly. I was the one probably fooling around all the time and some of the jokes were really silly but that’s how I am. I love having a good time, you know having a good laugh. And she would really find a lot of things funny as well. We got talking from thereon. I am really glad that shampoo commercial happened.”
Farokh Engineer controversy related to his wife Anushka Sharma
“She came for 1 World Cup game against Sri Lanka and the family box and the selector box was different, and there was no selector in that box. She came for 1 game with two friends. As I said, she is known, she’s been successful at a very high level so when people take her name, it gets noticed. You want to mention something about the selectors do that, but why join her name with it. We are not people who would go out and start these debates but you have to put the truth out there – the way things actually are and the way they are perceived and accepted are very different. So you need to put across what is happening because you are in those situations yourself,” Kohli clarified.”
How being vegetarian helped him maintain his fitness
“Look for the last year and a half I have been vegetarian. Before that, I was consuming meat which was working well for me. In a phase, it worked really well for me. I think from 2016 January to about the end of the IPL. Before we started playing Test cricket, we only had 5-6 months of T20 cricket so I was just doing lifting and I was eating a lot of red meat, you know consuming a lot of meat. So I became a very explosive athlete and I was able to play the power game really well but then Test matches came along. I had to put on a bit more fat, consume more carbohydrates. I think having Basu sir around was the biggest help for me. Like he would understand my body precisely the way I do and he would tell me what to eat when. How to train and how not to train. When to take rest, what to do while resting, how to recover. And I just followed everything to the tea. I would just listen to him and then I started understanding it myself. So he would tell me you know what you need to do and I would come back fresh when I took a break because I understood it myself. I wanted to learn. It was similar to batting you know when you go out there and play, you get a hundred, it’s not by chance. You need to understand from ball one to ninety or hundred how many balls you play or Test matches you play a lot more. What were you doing for all those deliveries, so you can repeat it that’s consistency.”
On Ravi Shastri being called his yes-man
“All the things we spoke about, you know what was being spoken and said about Anushka as well. I think most of these things are agenda-driven. I don’t know whos why or what for, but to accept lies in that manner, it could not be anything else but agenda-driven.
“If it was random, one guy would write it and the others would not focus on it because it is not important enough,” Virat Kohli told India Today in the inaugural episode of ‘India Today Inspiration’.
“In Ravi bhai’s case, he is luckily a person who doesn’t care at all. I mean a guy who has faced that attack (during his career) without a helmet and got runs there, he is not gonna be bothering about someone sitting at home and trolling him.
“We want to leave behind a legacy that cricketers in the country say that we want to play like that as a team. We want to have questions asked on how many runs did you make to what happened to the team. If you want to create a sporting culture then ask them the right questions. So that is the mindset shift that we are in the process of so these petty things on the outside to him don’t matter.”
India’s World Cup semi-final defeat vs New Zealand
“It is not easy. If you ask me, do I get affected by failure? Yes, I do. Everyone does. I am human at the end of the day. It is difficult to process failure at such a big stage. But also you have to understand that I totally believe in the fact that what’s meant for you will happen.
“Success and failure is part of everything that we do in life, whether it is sport or daily life, it is the truth of life and you need to be able to accept both with grace. That’s the thing I have learned. You can’t say I am the king of the world when you succeed or we are invincible now and when you fail you beat yourself down so much that you can’t wake up again.”
On his own dismissal during World Cup semi-final
“My dismissal, obviously it was hurtful for me. And especially the next day when you look at 2 dismissals of Aaron and Steve Smith, which were similar calls and similar distance of hitting the bails and both umpire’s call. But in hindsight, then again, you have to give benefit to the umpires as well. I got hit while leaning forward, those guys were hit while playing on backfoot. SO maybe I could have misjudged the length and would have been saved. These are things you look in hindsight but you have to understand that everybody there was trying to do their best. Not that the umpire wanted to make a call that could be crucial. And to be fair to him it did click the bails it wasn’t like it was missing or something. Sport is such that it takes your emotions to all kinds of places but you have the strength to bring them together and have as balanced a platform as possible to keep moving in the right direction.”
On his desire of winning an ICC tournament as a leader
“We obviously have the desire to win big tournaments and we want to give our best effort possible but if you focus on things which are only based on success then you cannot enjoy the process and we as a team, we play so well because we enjoy the process. But, if you ask me honestly, I mean I didn’t ever think that I would be part of the winning World Cup team in my first World Cup or two years down the line we will the Champions Trophy as well. So, I never thought of these things but it happened. ”
“I just hate losing, I hate losing in anything. That is how a sportsman is made up. No one fine with failing. The most important thing for anything that I do on the field is…I don’t want to walk out and say maybe I could have done this. I don’t want to have maybes and what-ifs. When I step out on the field, it is a privilege, an honour for me. When I walk out I want to have zero energy left because that is what I am supposed to do. That is why I am selected.
However, hard I worked for age-group cricket, this has to be a constant 10 times hard working process on a daily basis because I am representing my country. And there could not be a bigger honour for me. So I understand the importance of where I come from and the opportunity I have. I don’t want to leave any stone unturned. I hate having the feeling of maybe I could have gone for that catch, maybe I could have pushed an extra yard for an extra run. I want to avoid that feeling and that’s why I go along with my work in a crazy manner.”