Virat Kohli: RCB squad is well balanced and primed to excel

IPL: “We have a great balance of experience, T20 skill and eager youngsters. This is the most balanced squad since our memorable 2016 season,” says RCB’s captain Virat Kohli.

“It is important for players to remember that we have played in empty stadiums at some stage in our lives. In those games, you just wanted to perform and play for the love of the game. Instincts will kick in once players are on the field, so the crowd factor will diminish quite quickly,” said Virat Kohli.   -  K. Murali Kumar

That Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) is yet to win an Indian Premier League (IPL) title is a sore point for fans. The previous season, in fact, turned out to be disastrous, with the team finishing at the bottom of the points table with just five wins in 14 matches.

Skipper Virat Kohli is no stranger to RCB’s journey in the IPL, having been with the franchise since the inaugural edition in 2008. But this is not the time to be weighed down by past failures, Kohli believes.

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“I spoke to A. B. de Villiers about this. We’ve never felt so calm going into an IPL before. De Villiers is coming from a different mind space now; he has been enjoying his life. He is batting like it is 2011, and is fit as ever. We’re disconnecting with the past. We’re not carrying any baggage, which we’ve done too many times in the past,” Kohli said.

Kohli stated that this squad is well balanced and primed to excel. “The reason why Chris Morris has been included is that he brings balance to the team. Some of the youngsters are quite exciting too. Aaron Finch has a lot of international experience; Josh Philippe is very exciting. We have a great balance of experience, T20 skill and eager youngsters. This is the most balanced squad since our memorable 2016 season,” Kohli said. Playing at only three venues makes life easy for players, compared to the hectic multiple-city travel needed when the IPL is held in India. “All teams will know the three venues inside out. This makes a more level-playing field. The competition will be high. It will boil down to skill. In India, you have to pack your bags and travel frequently. Here, we stay at the same hotel for the full duration of the IPL. You will feel more settled and calm,” Kohli said.

Kohli believes that playing in empty stadiums will take a little while to get used to. “It will be strange (to play without spectators), at least in the initial stages of the IPL. The echo of the ball hitting bat (in an empty stadium) — I haven’t heard that since playing in the Ranji Trophy in 2010. For 10 years now, I haven’t played a game without hearing the crowd,” Kohli said.

“But it is important for players to remember that we have played in empty stadiums at some stage in our lives. In those games, you just wanted to perform and play for the love of the game. Instincts will kick in once players are on the field, so the crowd factor will diminish quite quickly,” he said