In an exclusive sit-down with Sky Sports’ Dinesh Karthik ahead of India’s Test series in England, captain Virat Kohli opens up about his cricketing mindset, discussing his feisty attitude on the field, his thought process while batting, his devotion to fitness, leadership , social media and more. Here is Kohli in his own words…
KOHLI ON FEISTINESS
“For me a game of cricket is about making your team win. I can very well enjoy the process of batting in the nets, smile and have fun, but when you mean business, you mean business.
“In life I don’t have to compete with anyone. I don’t have to be feisty or aggressive. But when I step onto the field I am going to give 120 per cent every game I play and no one can count that against me. I am going to play this way and this is who I am.
England vs India
August 4, 2021, 10:00am
“I will not stand around wanting people to do something I am not able to do first. Every ball is an event and I will throw myself around every ball for the whole Test match, even if it is in the 90th over on the fifth day .
“Every moment is an opportunity to make your team win and that is exactly why you step on the field. You have to make that time count. Our careers are so short anyway, even if you play for 20 years. When you are on the field you absolutely make the most of it.
“I like to let things flow. I don’t necessarily look to put filters or restrictions on because I feel like I have to be myself, my organic self. If you don’t like it, that’s fine but is it going to make me change? Not at all.”
KOHLI ON FEARLESSNESS
My father said, ‘I am not going to pay a single penny to make him play, if he can play on his talent, so be it, if not, it is not meant to be for him’. That stuck with me for life. I always related on myself and what I can do as an individual first. When my back is against the wall there is only one way for me and that’s forward and I will do everything in my power to fight my way up again.
“When I step onto the field I have to believe I am the best. I am not going to allow anyone to think I’m a pushover on the field. It’s not to disrespect anyone, it’s belief in my own abilities.
“Fine, you have the ball in hand but if you get it wrong you know you are going to for runs. If you get me out and bowl a great spell, hats off to you. But the next time I am going to be here again so make sure you bring your A-game. That’s the mindset at this level.
“If you show any vulnerabilities or fears, they are going to eat you up. I have to be as fearless as I can. If I get out, I want to get out on my terms. I might as well make a silly mistake and know this is what I need to correct.
“I don’t go out there to prove anyone wrong but I put myself in a position where I want to do special things and win special series. If 50,000 people in a stadium feel like it cannot be done, I will challenge myself to say it can.
“I have seen it a number of times where my conviction in how I see the situation has been far more powerful than the doubts of thousands of people in the same place. In any situation, I believe I can do it.
KOHLI ON FITNESS
“It happened in 2012. I thought ‘this IPL I am going to dominate everyone’ but the IPL started and a few games didn’t go my way.
“My mindset completely dropped to the other end. I was eating anything that came in sight. I was eating horribly, sleeping horribly, my habits were all over the place.
“When I finished the IPL, I went home, came out of the shower the first day, saw myself in the mirror and was ashamed. It was like looking at another human being.
“I told myself ‘if you want to play cricket at the highest level, this is not the way you can manage.’ From the next day onwards, I changed everything about my diet and the way I trained. From then on it was an obsession.”
KOHLI ON DRIVING INDIA’S CULTURE
“I have achieved what I wanted to as a leader, which is to create a culture where people strive for excellence every day. Every practice session, no one is wasting their time and that for me is so, so important.
“I would rather have an hour of quality practice rather than lurking around for two hours fooling around for an hour in between. I don’t see anyone doing that anymore.
“It is absolutely precise, absolutely professional. You know that if you want to play for India you have to be fit.
“After MS Dhoni left, cricket evolved – the pace of the game started moving notches higher and we moved with the times. The results over the last five or six years are there for everyone to see. We are probably the one team in world cricket everyone is wary of when we travel.”
Taking a stroll down the street (in England) is relaxing, such is the reality of our lives back home. I can’t complain about anything in life but thinking of going down the street in India is not even a dream for us. We are all human beings and we just want some normalcy now and then and to relax.
Virat Kohli on fame
KOHLI ON SOCIAL MEDIA
“I know for a fact people do get affected by this, they take it very, very seriously, but for me that’s just noise.
“Those are letters typed by someone in a comments section, so why should it bother anyone? Why give so much importance to a person you have no idea who they are? Stay true to who you are and realize your own potential.
“Use social media for the right reasons and don’t let it control you. You be in control over how much you want to look at it. If you have posted stuff, you don’t need to bother if a thousand people abuse you online
“I have been booed by 40-50,000 people regularly when I enter the stadium. If I start focussing on that, I can’t play a ball. It’s an opportunity for me to say, ‘things are stacked up against me, let me test myself how good I am’. I think the same thing can be applied with regards to social media.”
KOHLI ON MINDSET AS CAPTAIN
“Everything I have done since I entered the Indian team has always been for the Indian team. How can I improve this environment I am part of?
“I don’t want our players to waste the months and years I wasted trying to figure things out. I found the formula for success and I want these guys to pick it up early so that transition with Indian cricket can be very smooth. It should not take youngsters two or three years after the seniors have gone to build a team again.
“It doesn’t matter if a guy running in to bowl has 140 Test matches and you have four, if you have more belief in yourself than him on the day you can outplay him. That is what I have tried to inculcate.
“Don’t let these norms of playing 30 or 40 Test matches fool you – as even after 80 or 90 Tests, if you are not in a good frame of mind, experience counts for nothing and you are still going to nick the first ball to slip.
“Even in the toughest moments, the mindset is simple. Go out there and have fun. Enjoy the moment. Face the fear, look it in the eye, and say ‘I am going to keep coming at you’.
“That’s how I live my life. I never doing anything half and half or something I am not convinced about.”
Watch the first Test between England and India live on Sky Sports The Hundred and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am on Wednesday.