What Kohli taught Yuvraj
Yuvraj Singh has said that Virat Kohli is a "very special kid" and that he had learnt a lot from the early years of Kohli's career. "Since the time he has joined the Indian team, I saw his work ethic and I wished and wondered why I didn't have that work ethic when I was his age," Yuvraj said during his first media conference on returning to India after receiving treatment in the USA for a rare cancer.
Kohli has come to represent the most promising face of Indian cricket currently and was even appointed vice-captain ahead of Gautam Gambhir for the recent Asia Cup. At the start of the 2000s, after he made his ODI debut for India, it was Yuvraj who belonged in those shoes. He was asked as to what his advice would be to Kohli to prevent him from repeating the mistakes Yuvraj himself may have made ten years ago.
As the question ended, a grin broke out on Yuvraj's face and his reply in Hindi was completely tongue-in-cheek. "Woh bahut badi cheez hai" roughly translates as a description of Kohli being both the next big thing in cricket as well as quite a character.
More seriously, Yuvraj said that Kohli was a "very special kid" and "really talented". "Actually I have learnt a lot from him," Yuvraj said. "His work ethic is brilliant, his focus is immense. Since the time he has joined the Indian team, I saw his work ethic and wished and wondered why I didn't have that work ethic when I was his age." Yuvraj said he talked a lot to Kohli because he had realised that for an Indian cricketer, early success made his 20s "a very vulnerable age." "When you get success in your 20s, you can get vulnerable and it can affect your focus. So I try and help him with whatever I can... at times you have to keep him in check, under control sometimes."
Kohli's tally of 11 ODI centuries in 85 ODIs over a four-year period was "a phenomenal record," according to Yuvraj. He said he wished he could have had such a record, "but unfortunately I batted down the order, but he is a very special player in the making." Yuvraj was happy to see Kohli being made India vice-captain at a young age and said, "I hope he goes up the ladder stronger and stronger. I am very happy for his success."
Edited by Abhishek Purohit
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo