For the first time since 2013, Virat Kohli will turn up in the Indian Premier League (IPL) without the additional responsibility of captaincy.
Kohli had relinquished RCB’s leadership following the IPL 2021 season and the baton has now been passed to Faf du Plessis, who was roped in by the franchise for INR 7 crore at the mega-auction last month.
In a chat with RCB’s official website, Virat opened up on playing without the burden of leadership duties.
“It's a good change. I'm much more relaxed,” the 33-year-old said. “(I have) the same excitement of coming to practice, focussing on my skills and what I need to do as a batter. Looking forward to these sessions was something I used to experience very regularly before. Somewhere, when you have other responsibilities, this tends to take a backseat. Over a period of time, when your mind is only running in one direction, you can tend to lose joy to come and practice.
“For me, that has always been the essence of playing cricket. I've always wanted for it to be alive within me and I certainly feel the joy of purely coming here and batting, hitting the ball again,” he added.
When asked if he is feeling “10 years younger” after joining the squad without the leadership responsibilities, Kohli said he takes a lot of pride in contributing to the team.
“A lot of people say that one should look at things at a point of view of responsibility. A lot of people don't understand that if you, as a player, cannot be the best version of yourself on the fied, then the responsibility, for me as a player, means nothing. You can still be a leader of the team and drive the team forward towards success and winning trophies, but I take a lot of pride in contributing for the team,” said the former RCB captain.
“So, if I feel that something is pushing that joy down, that fun factor of playing cricket and doing something special on the field, and having the knowledge that you have people who have able minds to take the team forward, then I think it's a wise decision for anyone to create some space for themselves. We can just take a deep breath and restructure things, and say, 'hold on, I might have not looked at a lot of things I need to work on, and here's a chance for me to restructure and find things to improve'. That is something I've experienced in this phase.”
Notably, Virat Kohli has also quit India’s T20I and Test captaincy while he was sacked as ODI skipper last year.
With him being completely relieved of captaincy, it is being said that Kohli will return to his dominating best with the bat in the upcoming IPL.