Virat Kohli has always been a fierce and fiery competitor on the field but mistakes early in his career haunted the Indian star.
The world’s number one ranked batsmen in Test and one-day cricket, Kohli has matured in recent years but still wears his heart and passions on his sleeve.
In a wide-ranging interview with Fox Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist, the Indian captain revealed his volatile early tours of Australia have shaped his perspective on cricket.
“I’ve always been myself, I’ve never tried to be someone else because of someone else’s opinion and hence I learned from my own mistakes and realised my own mistakes and correcting them through the journey,” Kohli said.
“I am massively different from the first two tours (of Australia), especially the first when I was so bad.
“I did not have a good understanding of where to draw the line. Those are things I would not say I regret but things I look at as mistakes but that were important for me to commit so I could learn from them.
“I was never a perfect mould of a typical old school cricketer. I just wanted to find my own way and I guess those things were part of that journey.”
India’s Virat Kohli is the top of both the Test and ODI batting rankings.Source:News Corp Australia
As is common in Indian cricket, with the weight of a billion fans on his back, Kohli faced intense criticism early in his career.
Whenever Australia and India play, inevitably Kohli’s temperament and temper will dominate headlines.
He’s flipped the bird at Aussie fans in 2012, said there was no reason to respect Mitchell Johnson in a war of words in 2014 and accused the Australians of not “upholding the spirit of the game” after a spiteful match in India last year.
There have been spiteful clashes between Australia and India in recent years, but arguably none more so than Kohli copping a verbal barrage from David Warner on Boxing Day in 2014 — and run-ins with Steve Smith in India in 2017.
Despite the competitiveness on the field, Kohli said he has a good relationship with Warner, particularly following the infamous ball tampering scandal in South Africa in March.
“Apart from all the competitiveness on the field and all the battles you have, you never want to see such a magnitude of something happen to two sportsmen,” Kohli said.
“What happened after (Cape Town), I felt very bad, I felt like the things that happened afterwards should not have happened.
“The things that hit me the hardest was the way they were received at the airports and the way escorted out.
“It is not my place to comment on the decisions but to treat people like that for me it was unpleasant to see. How they were treated, I would never want to experience that as a cricketer.
Both ferocious competitors, Virat Kohli revealed he and David Warner are friends off the field.Source:News Corp Australia
“After that event and before, I have always been in touch with David. Me and him get along really well. I’ve always been in touch with him. He’s always nice to send me a text after games and he has been very kind to me.’’
Gilchrist was surprised by the stunning admission with the perception the pair, being such ferocious competitors on the field, would be unlikely to get along.
Warner was in the centre of some of the controversy
“It takes two people to break bad air which may be created on the field,” Kohli said.
The competitive streak which has seen Kohli rise to the top of the world cricket batting pedestal came from his early days playing cricket.
“I would say that I have always been very competitive and that comes from playing in Delhi in the junior levels,” he said.
“You had to out-perform everyone else and make sure you were doing something special to come up the ranks.
“That passion and that obsession about winning came from there because I just wanted to make a mark so badly because I loved the sport so much and I wanted to make it my career.
“There were are few occasions when people tried to use favours to get me into a squad. He said “no.’’
If he can make it on his own ability good, otherwise he is not good enough and should not continue.
“That is the attitude I have always played with. I have never looked for excuses.’’
Virat Kohli’s competitive streak still has not left him.Source:AP
It’s an attitude that has held Kohli in good stead through his career and taken him to the leadership of the Indian side.
It links back to his father Prem, a lawyer, who had a major influence on his career.
His father died in 2006 but in an indication of the resilience of the superstar, just 12 hours after the passing, Kohli hit 90 in India’s domestic Ranji Trophy competition.
“That morning I had to go and play. My family told me not to play,” he said.
“The thought that pushed me forward was that my father would have wanted me to play. He was passionate about the game.’’
Married to Bollywood actor and film producer Anuhka Sharma, Kohli called his life “hectic” but credited his wife with grounding him and turning around his ferocious competitiveness.
“When I met my wife I began to change. I came from a very different background from north India and I had no idea of what happened in any other sphere of society or anyone else’s life,” he said.
“Her life was very different. It came with her own challenges and perspective on things. It was amazing to just see how much different things were to the way I think. I was not a very practical person before that. She has changed me a lot. I have learnt so much from here.
“She has helped me a lot.’’
You can see the interview with Virat Kohli on Kayo, which is powered by FOX SPORTS Australia, ESPN and beIN SPORTS.
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