Former Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli has expressed gratitude to the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise for backing him at a stage when no other team believed in him. Back in 2008, RCB bought the 33-year-old Kohli after the latter captained India U19 to glory in the World Cup in Malaysia, where the Boys in Blue defeated Wayne Parnell’s South Africa in the final.
In that tournament, Kohli scored a sparkling century against the West Indies, after which the Bangalore-based franchise roped him in for the inaugural IPL edition. From there on, Kohli kept scaling one height after the other and is currently the all-time leading scorer in the history of the T20 tournament.
He is also one of the two batters to have scored over 6000 runs in the league, along with Shikhar Dhawan. The Delhi-born cricketer lauded the IPL for giving him the chance of rubbing shoulders with the best players in the world.
“I think outside of playing for India, the IPL gave me the platform to show my capabilities, compete against the best in the world and share knowledge with them. I think that was the most important thing that added a different dimension to my understanding of the game. This helped me move ahead in a very progressive way.
“I was picking the brains of people that I probably wouldn’t have come across otherwise on things like how to play in different conditions and what mind-set they have. You know, people have different ways to succeed, so it can’t be just one template.
“So I used to be so excited and grateful for the opportunity to pick their brains and just learn from them day in and day out and that’s, for me, has been the standout feature of IPL,” Kohli said on the ‘Inside RCB’ show on Star Sports.
Kohli is the only cricketer who has played for only one franchise since the inception of the IPL way back in 2008. But as per the veteran, loyalty with the Challengers matters far more to him than paying heed to others’ opinions.
“To be very honest, I thought about it. Yes, I won’t shy away from it and I have been approached many times as well to come into the auction somehow, put my name there and stuff.
“And then I thought about it, I was like, at the end of the day, everyone has X numbers of years that they live and then you die and life moves on. There would have been many great people who won trophies but no one addresses you like that. No one addresses you in the room like ‘Oh he’s an IPL champion or he’s a World Cup champion.
“It’s like if you are a good person, people like you, if you’re a bad guy, they just stay away from you and, eventually, that’s what life is all about.
“For me, the understanding that loyalty with RCB, like how I follow my life, is far greater for me than the fact that five people in the room will say, oh finally, you win the IPL with whoever xyz. You feel good for five minutes, but then sixth minute you could be miserable with some other issues in life. So it is not the end of the world for me,” Kohli stated.
KOHLI HIS OWN MAN
Kohli was clear cut in saying that before taking crucial decisions in his life, he consults his wife, Anushka Sharma, and not other people. The seasoned campaigner said that he didn’t want to keep any regrets in his heart after tasting loads of success in his career.
“What this franchise has given me in terms of opportunities in the first three years and believed in me is the most special thing because, as I said, there are many teams who had the opportunity, but they didn’t back me, they didn’t believe in me.
“So now, when I am successful, I shouldn’t fall to the opinion of people saying ‘but’ the IPL. This was the case with me till 2018 England tour happened. For four years of my life, I was doing well everywhere in the world. The only thing was ‘but England’.
“So there are always going to be ‘but’, you literally can’t live your life like that and I just carry out doing my own things and I actually honestly don’t even bother about a third person beyond myself and Anushka discussing things.
“For me, nothing else or no one else’s opinion matters at all,” he signed off.