Virat Kohli: Absence of respect in opposition’s eyes made me change myself

The India captain speaks about the work he has done on his fitness after returning from India’s tour of Australia in 2012, in an interview with journalist Graham Bensinger.

“If [the] Indian team has to be the best in the world, it needs to go about in a certain manner.” Virat Kohli celebrates after effecting a run out in the second Test against West Indies at Sabina Park.   -  AP

Absence of fear or respect in the eyes of the opposition made Virat Kohli change his work ethic and become the “impact player” he is today.

Kohli revealed as much in an interview with Emmy winning journalist Graham Bensinger.

The interview is aimed at providing a peek into his life to a global audience. In it, Kohli speaks about the work he has done on his fitness after returning from India’s tour of Australia in 2012.

“When I walked in to bat, there wasn’t any fear or respect in opposition corner,” Kohli said in a sports web-show, In Depth with Graham Bensinger. “I didn’t want to walk into ground thinking that opposition feels that this guy is a pushover, who is going to do no damage. Just didn’t want to be another player as I wanted to make an impact. I wanted that when I walk in; the teams should think that we need to get this guy out or else we will lose the game. And if I don’t want to be that guy, then there is something wrong in my head,” Kohli said.

Lots of energy

Kohli spoke about how fitness became an integral part of his life and how it helped him recover quickly, even as the Indian team crisscrossed the U.K. during a six-week World Cup campaign. “During World Cup, every game my energy level was 120 percent. My recovery was so fast that average distance I covered in a game was 15 kms. I would come back, do my recovery treatments and travel to another city and soon I was ready to train again. There was so much energy that I could do gym sessions and play 10 games in such a short span of time (35 days). Played each game at high intensity and never felt like this before. There was no stiffness in my body,” said Kohli.

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He considers Sachin Tendulkar — his idol — to be in a different league to him in terms of skills. Kohli’s is a case of pure hard work. “I knew I wasn’t the most skilled sportsperson when I came in but [the] only constant thing has been working on myself. If [the] Indian team has to be the best in the world, it needs to go about in a certain manner,” Kohli said.

“When we came back from Australia in 2012, I saw a gap [between us and Australia]. I realised, if we don’t change the way we are playing, training or eating, we can’t compete with best in the world. No point in competing if you don’t want to be the best. I wanted to be the best version of myself and then based everything around that vision, my approach to the game changed,” he said.