Kohli: Took a few days to get over the World T20 loss

On the eve of RCB's opening match against SRH, skipper Kohli said he opened the batting last year to give de Villiers more opportunities to play at number three. Kohli, who has been in tremendous form at No. 3 for India, said he might opt for a similar strategy this season as well.

RCB skipper Virat Kohli during a press conference at Chinnaswany Stadium in Bengaluru on Monday.   -  NS

When Virat Kohli takes the field for Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday, he will have been part of the same IPL franchise for nine seasons — longer than anyone else has spent at one team.

Kohli joined RCB as a callow 19-year-old and is now an accomplished senior, entering his fourth full season as the team’s captain; his growth in the intervening years has been remarkable. “My association with RCB is very special,” he said here on Monday ahead of the clash with Sunrisers Hyderabad.

The elusive title

“I have always been welcomed here very warmly, that’s why I love the franchise and have a deep connection. Even with the city as well: the way people are so nice to us, so genuinely fond of the players. It has been a wonderful journey. Obviously, there has always been the feeling that we haven’t been able to lift the title having been runners-up twice. So that is one hurdle that we have always wanted to cross.”

Only 11 days ago, Kohli was doing his best to take India past West Indies in the semifinals of the World T20. Returning to action this swiftly was not easy, he admitted.

“Personally, it was difficult to get over that loss in the semifinals, especially because we'd created such a good momentum,” Kohli said. “Seeing the atmosphere and the energy during the whole World Cup was something that was really motivating for the whole team. We really wanted to go all the way. So that took a few days to get over."

Starting on the right note

“For the Indian players, especially those who played regularly, it will be a challenge to start off on the right note. It will take a lot of self-motivation to play with the same kind of intensity. The guys who haven't been able to get a few games with the Indian team are the ones who'd actually be itching to go out there.”

Kohli opened the innings last year for RCB, but has been in tremendous form at number three for India for a long time. “Why I batted up the order with RCB last year was to give A.B. (de Villiers) more opportunity at three,” he said.

More opportunity for De Villiers

“He's too good a player to be batting at four or five. We'll mostly do the same thing with him again, because we want him to play with freedom. He takes so much burden playing for South Africa. He's expected to score every game that he plays, in all three formats. So we just want him to stay relaxed and get as many balls to bat as possible.”

The 27-year-old felt the talk of winning the IPL was premature. “It’s too long a tournament to think of all those things,” he said. “It’s not a matter of four or five games; there are lots of games, many ups and downs, and run-rates and other teams’ results. We would like to be in a position where we aren’t depending on anyone else to make the play-offs. That’s the No.1 priority.”