Shankar Basu, the man behind fit India

Basu said that the Indian cricketers were nudged to watch their diet and become self-aware to gain prime fitness.

Published : Jun 19, 2019 22:29 IST , Southampton

India captain Virat Kohli with trainer Shankar Basu.
India captain Virat Kohli with trainer Shankar Basu.

India captain Virat Kohli with trainer Shankar Basu.


In the distant past, Indian cricketers would jog, dunk some biscuits in tea, train in the nets and off the field, dig into greasy food while the calories soared. Cut to the present, the Men in Blue prepare scientifically as they blend ideal work-outs, monitored diets and perfect sleep-patterns.

At the Hampshire Bowl here on Wednesday, Indian team’s trainer Shanker Basu explained to the media about how Virat Kohli’s men gear up for their sporting battles. “Rome was never built in a day and this team’s brand of training started in 2015,” Basu said.

There is a zing to Indian fast bowlers these days and Basu attributed that to prime fitness: “In the last one year, (Jasprit) Bumrah, (Mohammed) Shami, Ishant (Sharma), Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and Umesh (Yadav) have bowled much quicker. We did a few lifestyle modifications and we got this GPS last year. It gave us data that is of immense value, based on that we understood our training methodology and prepared our schedules. All this helped our fast bowlers bowl at more than 140 and 145 clicks (kmph).”

From left: Virat Kohli, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Hardik Pandya, K.L. Rahul and Jasprit Bumrah at a gym session.

Asked about the lifestyle modifications and also the IPL's impact, Basu replied: “We educated them about the circadian rhythm. The human body has a particular sort of sleep-wake cycle but what happens during the IPL is that the boys take a beating. This World Cup preparation was critical (especially) with the IPL preceding it. We used to jokingly say that the IPL is a sort of Mount Everest, then we come to the base camp and then we are coming to Kilimanjaro here. During the IPL, the boys sleep late - 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock. To get them back to sleeping early and to do a training regimen was a challenge and we had only eight days to come here.

READ| ' My biggest achievement is a fit Shami'

Since the boys have done it over the last four years, they quickly understood the value of sleep-wake cycle, good nutrition programme, supplements, training, strength work, conditioning and warm-ups. It has made a difference. The IPL is a gruelling tournament and after it concluded, we decided to rest the players because a pre-World Cup camp could have been counter-productive.”

Basu reiterated that the players were nudged to watch their diet and become self-aware. “We introduced a Dexa-scan, which is used for checking bone density and fat percentage. The moment you have a number in your hand and it says 20, 30, 10 or 12, there is a sort of healthy competition within the team. What are the ways you can bring down the fat percentage? One is healthy eating habits. Everybody started eating better, they lost fat and moved better. We have the least number of injuries in the last three to four years. The players have cut down on junk (food). This team is as good as an athletic team. We also did a DNA test that gives you an indication of what sort of a person you exactly are – whether you are power-oriented or endurance-oriented, whether you are gluten-intolerant or lactose-intolerant. We gave them the report card and they made informed decisions and that was really gratifying,” Basu said.

He also lauded Shami’s metamorphosis: “He failing the fitness test was a blessing in disguise. After that, he was a changed man. We have done his fat testing over three years and it is the same. He has changed his entire training regimen and training is part of his lifestyle. This is 2.0 version of Shami.”

Moving from the tropical heat of India to England’s alleged summer where temperatures dip and the rain is a constant companion, Basu has a tough task on his hands in the coming days but he trusts his wards to stay warm and fit.

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