Virat Kohli has asserted that he is now comfortable with the "Superman" tag that he enjoys in India and it was something that took him time to get used to. In an interview with Michael Vaughan, Kohli also explains the comparisons to Sachin Tendulkar and how the latter helped him in his career.
"It is part of being a cricketer in India. It is part of the package that people love you. If you run away from it, it is going to haunt you, pressurise you and pull you down," Kohli told Vaughan in an interview with the Telegraph, on the pressures of playing for the cricket-crazy country of India.
“I started to appreciate it. After a while I thought these people love me, they want me to do well. It is just they have a different way of expressing it. I needed to process it in my head. It is important to have a set of people you connect to and in touch with regularly and not be friends with everyone and out there for everyone.
"I understand that after 10-12 years this will all go way. The next in line will be the one who gets it. He will go through that and I look forward to 12 years’ time rather than being in it now and getting carried away with it,” he added.
Getting mobbed on the streets is a common occurrence for Indian cricketers, who are seen as gods in the country, and it can be a hassle to live life as a normal person. Planning a meal is an effort on its own, as Kohli explains.
“It takes a lot of planning. For dinner you need a police guard in front of the vehicle you are travelling in, then you need to inform people at the restaurant to keep a table in the corner, not have any people close to that table. The main thing in our country is people like to grab you and touch you and feel if you are real or not. I promise you.
"I clearly remember after a World T20 game in Mohali against Australia this year. I felt people were reacting in a different way towards me, they looked at me as if I was walking in a circular light or something.
"I came out of security in the airport and there was this one guy who came up to me. I told security to calm down. He stood next to me and said ‘show me your hands’. I held them out and he touched them and it was as if a flow of current went through his body. I said ‘bloody hell’. I was so embarrassed. I think he thought I was Superman or something,” Kohli remarked in the interview.
It wasn't always this rosy for the Indian Test captain. In the early parts of his career, he struggled with inconsistency and a couple of bad overseas tours brought him back to ground zero. Kohli averaged a minuscule 13.40 during the 2014 tour of England, and on his return back, he went back to training and took the help of the Tendulkar to get his technique right.
“I came back (from England) and went to Bombay for 10 days. I spoke to him(Sachin). He spent time with me. He said he had watched me in England and he helped me with a few technical things that are important at this level in terms of getting a good stride in, always having intent when playing the ball and never being unsure of what to do at the crease.
"I never had a forward press but he told me you should go forward to a fast bowler like you would defend a spinner. Do it with the same conviction is the only way you can be in a good position to tackle, swing seam or anything you want.
“We ended up speaking a lot during that phase. Those things worked out for me. Then I spoke to him about preparation. I said in Test cricket I see a lot of guys batting in the nets, they want to hit 200-300 balls before the game. He told me the importance of mentally staying relaxed. If you do not feel like hitting the ball, don’t hit it. Do not look at other people having a great net session for long hours, go off, try and do the same thing and come out frustrated. That helped me a lot," said Kohli about Sachin's influence on his batting.
Kohli finds his solace only when he is on an
“When I go away from India I go for a walk alone for an hour. You do get recognised in countries that play cricket but they will wave and walk off. That is nice. That is fine to not have someone barge into your space.
Having grown up watching the "Master Blaster" in action, he is now compared to the player, who is considered to be among the greatest players to ever play the game. Kohli, however, says that now he uses the chatter from the crowd to set benchmarks for himself and that has helped him tremendously in his career.
“I tried to fight it initially(the comparison). This country loves comparisons. The moment I started doing well I was already compared to him but it is like chalk and cheese in my book. People come up and have
"There was so much persistence from the fans letting them know what they wanted from me. I stood on the boundary and all they say is they want a century from me. But then I realised that over a period of time you set those benchmarks and those standards for yourself,” he said.
When he broke into the Indian team, he always had that aggression about him that most players lack. However, as time has gone by, he has calmed down with age and now he doesn't feel the need to be over expressive on reaching a milestone.
The Indian Test skipper said, “I am very expressive as a person that comes out on the field and is more to do with the fact I am not in control of all things and I get frustrated. It is something I want to improve on.
“The Rajkot game was good for us. We were challenged. We knew this England team would show resilience and character and there were alarm bells for us in the first Test. It was good that happened early in the series.
"We can’t afford to play loose cricket with this England team at any stage and we need to tighten the screws if we get a chance. In the second
The third Test begins on Nov 26 in Mohali.