Virat Kohli was the top run-scorer in the ninth edition of the Indian Premier League with 973 runs. His 38 sixes were the highest by any batsman. He hit 83 fours, the second-highest behind David Warner. While his super-human feats with the willow left many aghast, what was lost in the mountain of those surreal stats was the fact that he ran a stunning 56 twos.
He did something similar during the ICC World T20. If you look at the recording of India’s games against Australia at Mohali and the semifinal against West Indies at the Wankhede in Mumbai, you would be awestruck by Kohli’s strokeplay as he blazed his way to 81 not out off 51 balls and 89 not out off 49 balls. But what struck one’s eye was his running between the wickets where he ran lung-bursting twos and threes.
There is no denying the fact that Kohli is on the highway to greatness. But what one can’t see is the hours he spends training in the gym. The guy who once loved the good life is now romancing labour and the odour of sweat. Paying testimony to that is his India and Royal Challengers Bangalore strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu. “Virat will never challenge you once he is convinced about your methods. I found an athlete who was ready to go through the grind and work hard consistently whenever the need arose. He is very good with his nutrition plans and discipline factors,” Basu told BCCI.TV in an interview.
Dwelling more on his obsession to be in peak physical shape, Basu revealed that Kohli loves the spirit of competition. “Virat has decided to become the best athlete in the world and sky is the limit. There are a lot of role models ahead of him in terms of sheer athletic abilities and he will never shy away from competition. He will grab it with both hands. He is one guy who is in pursuit of excellence.”
So does one assume that Kohli’s phenomenal surge in form is because of the methods that Basu introduced? The Chennai man is too modest to admit that and reckons that he is the one who is fortunate to have found an athlete like the Indian Test skipper. “A lot of athletes will say that they are very lucky to find a coach, but I will instead say that Virat Kohli is an exceptional person, so I was very lucky to have an athlete like him. My association with him dates back to eight years through IPL,” Basu said.
After India’s win over Australia in the World T20 in Mohali, pacer Ashish Nehra revealed during a TV interview about how Kohli cut off curries from his diet to be in good shape and if you happen to be his guest for lunch or dinner, you have to be prepared to eat just grilled food. Basu vouches for those lifestyle changes. “He has also made a lot of lifestyle changes. Kudos to him. I was just a tool. I only introduced him to the right kind of strength work which was already building thanks to my predecessors. When I joined the Indian team full time, I was able to spend more quality time on a daily basis. That probably was the icing on the cake as about 90 per cent of the work was done by him and I just provided the finishing touch,” said Basu.
“There is always scope for improvement. He can raise the bar. He has very strong goals, lofty ambitions and his aspirations are unbelievable,” he added.