IPL 2019: No restrictions for World Cup players, says Kohli

Though he is yet to win an IPL title, India skipper Virat Kohli doesn’t want to play for any other franchise after spending 11 years with Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli and coach Gary Kirsten launched the 'RCB App' in Bengaluru on Saturday.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

 

Virat Kohli has now spent 11 years at Royal Challengers Bangalore, the longest any player has remained with one team in the IPL. It is clear that he shares a special bond with the team and its supporters.

The M. Chinnaswamy Stadium is perhaps dearer to him than any venue in the world. Kohli has risen immensely in stature since he first arrived here, and has conquered new frontiers as captain of the national team. But an IPL trophy continues to evade him. There is, however, no sense of disenchantment. “Even after so many years, having reached three finals and three semifinals and not having that trophy in our hand, we never felt like there was a lack of enthusiasm before starting a season,” Kohli said here on Saturday.

“That stands out for me the most, and it can only happen when you have such a strong fan-base and a stadium that you look forward to coming to and playing in. To me it has been a most special experience. I don’t see myself leaving or playing for any other franchise. That’s purely because of that connect. We’re going to play this season for that connect.”

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Kohli denied that there was pressure to deliver the first title, but the RCB skipper felt unrealistic expectations did not always serve the team well. “If I tell you that every year we lose because of the pressure of winning the cup, that will be wrong. [But] you shouldn’t create an atmosphere even before the tournament has started that ‘We are going to win this year,’ because there are seven other teams too. You have to be realistic," he said.

Asked if the ‘Ee sala cup nammde (This time, the cup is ours)’ slogan had added to the pressure, Kohli stated: “I can ignore it. But if you can’t take a guarantee that everyone else is going to ignore it, then it can stay in your mind.”

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Kohli reiterated that India's World Cup-bound players have to handle their workload carefully but there were no restrictions on their participation. "No, you cannot put a cap on [the number of matches they play]. If I’m able to play 10, 12 or 15 games it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other guy can only play that many. Someone else’s body might be more capable than mine or less, that is a very individual thing,” he said.