Virat Kohli’s exploits as a batsman and a leader during the South Africa tour had impressed one and all. After being 2-0 down in the Test series, Kohli had led the team from the front in the third and final Test at Wanderers to seal a history 63-run victory. From then on, India’s winning juggernaut didn’t stop as they secured both the limited-overs series with utmost ease.
While the Men in Blue clinched the six-match one-day international series with a stunning margin of 5-1, they won the three-match ODI series 2-1. Kohli was the highest run-getter in both Test and ODI series from either side. The Indian captain had scored 286 runs at an average of 47.66 on some of the most difficult wickets in three Tests and then followed it up with 558 runs at an average of 186 in 6 ODIs.
Virat is now gearing up to stamp his authority in the cash-rich Indian Premier League where he will lead the Royal Challengers Bangalore franchise. Prior to the auction, he was retained by RCB for a whopping sum of INR 17 crores, which also made him the most expensive player in IPL history.
With the fast approaching 11th edition of IPL, Kohli addressed the media on Wednesday (April 4) and stated that he is fully motivated to lift the trophy this season.
"More than the fans I want to win the cup. I have been with Bangalore for last 10 years and we haven't crossed the final hurdle three times. I can assure you, my commitment is going to be 120 per cent to try and achieve the goal this time," Kohli told reporters on the sidelines of the team’s practice session at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Following the 58-day long trip to South Africa, Virat was rested from the Twenty-20 tri-series in Sri Lanka that India had won by defeating Bangladesh in a thrilling final under Rohit Sharma. Reflecting on the decision, the RCB skipper said he badly needed it to get rid of some niggles.
“I required it. Physically I was up with 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. At the back of your mind, you are never out of the game,” Kohli asserted.
“I was keeping a check on all the scores happening 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 my peak condition. I’m definitely at 100 percent now, 110 is what I prefer and that 10 will take a little more time,” he further added.
Virat also analyzed the team composition of RCB and their chances to clinch the coveted title this year. He labelled the squad as the most balanced one in the last 10 years.
“We are optimistic about the season. It’s a very, very balanced side. In the 10 years that I’ve been here, I don’t think we’ve ever had such a balance,” commented Kohli.
“We had (a similar composition) 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. Something we know is 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,” he explained.
Kohli also revealed that people who contributed to the team’s culture, more than just being good batsmen or bowlers, was instrumental in them picking the squad.
“We wanted guys who could contribute to our team culture, be happy, contributing to the team’s cause on and off the field through the IPL season and are not worried about their personal performances as such. People who have the right kind of attitude, believe in team spirit and take the team forward no matter what. So I think we have great guys,” he said.
India’s World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten will play the role of batting mentor for RCB in IPL 2018. Taking about Kirsten’s inclusion in the coaching staff, Kohli said: “This discussion came up sometime before the auction happened. I thought it’s a great opportunity for the younger guys to spend time with Gary because I benefitted 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 cricket 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 as far as I saw it,” he concluded.
The 11th edition of IPL will kick off from April 7, with returning franchise Chennai Super Kings taking on the defending champions Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium. RCB will start their campaign against Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8.