Kohli’s big ‘no’ to rivalries

Asked if the IPL could create inter-city rivalries like club football, Virat Kohli, who is clearly not in favour of the idea, had this to say ahead of RCB’s opening IPL 2016 game:

Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle at the unveiling of the team's new jersey in Bengaluru on April 7. Kohli is the only one who has been with RCB since inception, while Gayle and AB de Villiers are a big hit in any city.   -  G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR

“Honestly, what I prefer is cricket being appreciated everywhere you go. Eventually IPL is created for the players to have a league of the best players in the world playing together; the cricket standard is very high.

“Secondly, it is created for the fans as well. If you see the kind of buzz and interest the IPL pulls, it is magnificent. I think the best thing to happen would be if the people treat all the games as an opportunity to go watch some great cricket rather than build rivalries because I don’t think it makes any sense. Because for 10 months of the year, you are playing for your country. You don’t want a situation where an Indian player is being booed in one of the stadiums, playing for the country.

“I know in the past, some incidents have happened which the players have not appreciated but it’s a gradual process of people getting around it as well. You should look at it as a tournament that you need to enjoy.

“Obviously, you need to prefer your home side but that doesn’t mean that you have to sort of intentionally pull down the away side. That’s why I love playing in Bangalore. If you see the kind of reaction people have to good cricket, any India player that walks on to the field in Bangalore, he is cheered the loudest. I think that’s what you like seeing as a cricketer. You don’t want to be booed in your own country in any of the stadiums. If you can be as neutral as possible, the league remains very relaxed, there’s not much tension between the teams as well.

“Everyone wants to play well and eventually win a tournament of cricket which you have come here to do and not fight with other teams or build strange rivalries which can seep into other areas as well. It’s very important to treat it as a league that happens for two months and not probably going into the club culture because in turn you want the fans to be united again when people are playing for their country — that’s how I see it.”