KL Rahul has asserted that Virat Kohli has stayed as humble as ever despite the success of the Indian team under his leadership that has seen him become a legend. While hailing the fitness of the current team, Rahul also voiced his excitement about travelling to play a series in South Africa.
“He is not as intense off the field. He is just like any one of us. He doesn’t make us feel like he is a legend of the game, which he is. We feel like Virat hasn’t changed that way. He has always up to some mischief off the field,” Rahul told NDTV.
The kind of effect he (Kohli) has had has been massive He has shown young India a different brand of cricket, which is aggressive, which is positive
“He loves to hang out with the boys. We play Playstation all the time and he loves the competition and even off the field he always wants to win. He is someone we always look up to because he trains really hard. He is very disciplined with his diet and his fitness and really takes care of himself which is rubbed onto the rest of the team.
“The kind of effect he has had has been massive He has shown young India a different brand of cricket, which is aggressive, which is positive and where players are not shy about expressing themselves. He has given us the freedom to do that.
You can see how passionate he is about each game and it doesn’t matter if he has scored a hundred or a double hundred the previous day, the next day he is as hungry as ever. That is what inspires a lot of us and even after achieving a lot of things, he is still humble and he still wants to achieve a lot more, not just individually but he wants to take this team to a level that nobody has ever seen and we all believe that we can get there as a team.”
After averaging a cool 61.2 against West Indies and New Zealand, people still reserved their judgement on KL Rahul challenging him to perform against the likes of England and Australia. While the 199 in Chepauk might have been the only shining light in the England series, Rahul had saved his best for the mighty Australians. As Virat Kohli fell out of form against the team from Down Under, it was Rahul who emerged as the biggest thorn in Australia’s path. Out of the seven innings, he played in the Border-Gavaskar series, Rahul scored half-centuries in six matches.
An injury, during the series, saw him miss the IPL and the following Champions Trophy. He returned to the team for the tour of Sri Lanka and in the game he played, the 25-year-old came up with a couple of more half centuries. But now is when the real test comes for India as they, after the upcoming Sri Lanka series, travel to South Africa, England, and Australia, Rahul is confident that the team, unlike the teams of the last five years, will perform in foreign conditions as well.
“The thing that has helped our team grow into such a good team in the last couple of years been how we have just taken each game and we have never backed down from a challenge. We have never thought about winning or losing and have stuck to doing what we do best. We go out there, enjoy the cricket and enjoy each other’s success,” he added.
“I don’t see any reason why we cannot do that abroad. Obviously, over the next year, when we will be travelling abroad, it will be the biggest challenge for this young Indian team. But we have done well abroad over the last couple of years, in West Indies and Sri Lanka. We can’t wait to go to South Africa and put in some exciting performances. It will be a great challenge for all of us and we are looking forward to it.
“We are not really thinking about the results. We just want to go out there and enjoy ourselves. It will be very challenging because they are a very competitive team with a great bowling line-up and to play them at their home will always be hard. But we won’t back down.
“We will go out there and give it our best shot playing our brand of cricket. I personally can’t wait to go to South Africa and get the series started since it is my first series in South Africa. I am looking forward to it.”
Rahul, who joined Bengaluru-based health and fitness start-up Cure fit as a brand ambassador, also talked about the importance of fitness and how it had helped the Indian team, including him, perform better over the last few years.
“Definitely. It is because of what we do out there (in the gym) and I have learned the importance of fitness in the last three or four years. And now I can see the change the way I behave and how my performances have gotten better day by day. A lot of credit for this is because of my disciplined fitness. Fitness is not just training and weight-lifting, it’s also about taking care of what you eat, and taking care of your recovery,” Rahul explained.