‘Amazing experience to just be another person on the road’: Kohli on his break from cricket

‘Amazing experience to just be another person on the road’: Kohli on his break from cricket

Virat Kohli opened up on his two-month break from cricket, terming the time away from the game and the country on paternity leave ‘a surreal experience’.

Speaking to Harsha Bhogle after being named Player of the Match for his 49-ball 77 in RCB’s first home game of the season, the 35-year-old reflected on the time away from the spotlight and the brouhaha of Indian cricket.

Kohli missed the entirety of the five-Test series against England, midway through which he welcomed his second child. “We were not in the country. We were at a place where people were not recognising us. Just time together as a family, just to feel normal for two months,” Kohli said. “For me, for us as a family, it was a surreal experience.

“Of course, having two kids, things become totally different from a family perspective. So just the ability to be together, the connections that you make with your older child, it’s amazing. I mean, I couldn’t have been more grateful to God for the opportunity that I got to spend time with my family.

“And yeah, just the place that we were in, I was telling the guys that when we came back, the voices back home felt that much louder. I couldn’t look up because I was just not used to being called my name for two months. And then immediately you hear these loud noises and then you’re back in it all again. But it was beautiful. It’s an amazing experience to just be another person on the road and not be recognised and just carry on about life that normally people would on a daily basis,” he added.

Kohli said he remained grateful for all the love showered on him by his fans, especially those in Bengaluru. “It’s been going on for years and you know, people talk about a lot of other things when you play sport. The achievements, the stats, the numbers. Look, at the end of the day when you look back, you’re not going to think of the numbers and the stats. It’s the memories that you create,” Kohli said.

“Famously Rahul [Dravid] bhai in the change room nowadays says exactly the same to us. When you play, you play your heart out because you’re going to miss these times when you’re with your friends in the change room playing in front of fans. So the relationship that’s happened organically over so many years it’s something that I can never ever forget. Just the love and the appreciation and the backing I’ve received for so many years that’s been amazing.”

After being reprieved on 0 by Jonny Bairstow, Kohli dusted off any remaining cobwebs in his game with a superlative chasing performance on an atypical Bengaluru wicket, hitting as many as eight boundaries in the first four overs. A highlight of this knock was his ability to step down to the seamers so as to make his own length and take the ball on the rise for powerful aerial hits through the off-side.

“Well I mean you have to [keep adding to you repertoire]. I try to give the team a blazing start, but if wickets fall you have to assess. It wasn’t the usual flat pitch. People know I play the cover drive pretty well so they’re not going to allow me to hit gaps and with guys like KG [Kagiso Rabada] and Arshdeep [Singh] as well, he’s tall. So, I mean, if they’re hitting length, you have to create some momentum in the ball. And once you’re closer to the ball, you kind of negate the bounce that’s going to happen. You meet it earlier. So, I mean, you have to come up with a game plan here and there and try to keep improving your game.”

Even during his time away from the game, Kohli wasn’t excused from the usual cricket debates. Whether he merited a spot in the India squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the USA and the Caribbean has been a hot topic that found its way to the broadcast commentary in Sunday’s Gujarat Titans vs Mumbai Indians game, when Kevin Pietersen suggested that Kohli was important to grow the sport in the USA. Former India coach Ravi Shastri then offered a counter stating that it was not about growing the game and that it was about winning the competition. Shatri said there was no need to carry any baggage in selection and advocated for ‘youth, flamboyance and dash’.

On a day when he became only the third player to register his 100 50+ score in T20 cricket, the 35-year-old had his own hot take: “I know my name is now attached to just promoting the game in different parts of the world when it comes to T20 cricket. But I’ve still got it I guess. That’s the promise I can give here – I’ll keep turning up and keep trying my best.”

© Cricbuzz

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