Former New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori, who is mentoring the IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore since last two seasons, has witnessed the evolution of Virat Kohli from the close quarters. Even though Kohli is a very distinct personality as comapred to Vettori with his aggressive presence on the cricket field, the Kiwi legend still admires the India and RCB captain for his unpararllaled will to become the best in the business.
In an exclusive interview with Wisden India, Vettori opened up about the current hearththrob of Indian cricket, saying that he is priveleged to have seen the growth of Virat at all stages of his career thus far.
“I am lucky enough to have seen Virat at all stages of his career. He was here when I was the captain of the (RCB) team, he was young and trying to be successful, trying to find his way. To develop himself into obviously a fantastic batsman, and he is also one of the fittest people in world cricket… Those two things have set an example for all of Indian cricket. Everyone tries to train in a similar manner, it has taken the Indian team forward dramatically and I think that has been a testament to him, how a leader should be showing the way. That has built into his leadership as a captain,” Vettori told Wisden India.
“The thing I have found with Virat in particular as a captain – and obviously there’s two sides to it… There is the passion – to do whatever he can to win on game day on the field. He is very keen to win on the field on game day. And then off the field, he is very receptive to information, he is very receptive to listening and wanting to learn. He wants to get better as well as having his own thoughts on everything that is going on in the game of cricket. None of us can really appreciate the magnitude of his role and the pressure that is on him and how exhausting some of the schedule is. But he manages it better than anyone I have ever seen,” he added.
Virat’s exploits as a batsman and a leader during the South Africa tour have won him plenty of fans all around the world. After being 2-0 down in the Test series, Kohli 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. Virat 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.
It is worth mentioning here that Kohli was rested from the recently concluded Twenty-20 tri-series in Sri Lanka that India won by defeating Bangaldesh in a thrilling final under Rohit Sharma.
“I am excited that he is having a rest at the moment! He can have a little bit of a break (from time to time), though I am not sure he knows how to rest,” Vettori opined.
Talking about Kohli’s unmatched intensity on the cricket field throughout a cricket match, the 39-year-old Vettori said: “There is a passion for cricket. If you sit down with Virat, you are talking cricket most of the time. He loves the game and that’s the thing that keeps the passion going. Also, his personal success and his team’s success.
“But if you have an innate love for the game, it gets you through everything. I think that’s the point where he is at. He obviously wants to be the best in the world, he’s got the talent to do it but he has backed it up with intensity and also the desire to keep improving. That comes from a genuine love of the game,” he concluded.