India in Sri Lanka 2012

Practice takes Kohli close to perfect

Yuvraj Singh once said he wished he had Virat Kohli's work ethic when he was young and watching Kohli in practice shows why.

Abhishek Purohit in Kandy

August 2, 2012

Comments: 47 | Text size: A | A

Virat Kohli at practice with MS Dhoni, Colombo, July 27, 2012
Virat Kohli maintains a rarely seen combination of passion and precision during practice © Associated Press
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It is easy to talk about Virat Kohli's attitude. He is young, successful and from Delhi, a city where brash is known to go with the former two attributes. He has everything a regular 23-year old would only dream of. He is India vice-captain, a World Cup winner, an IPL star and currently in the form of his life. And he makes sure you know all that the way he swaggers around with what can only be termed as the Don't-touch-me-I'm-Virat look. All of this is easily seen and easily spoken about. What is not seen much, largely due to Kohli's outward manifestations, is the way the man goes about his game. Yuvraj Singh has said he wished he had Kohli's work ethic when he was young, and you can see during practice what made Yuvraj say that.

If Gautam Gambhir's eyes drip intensity and Rahul Dravid's stance shows his determination, Kohli's entire being exudes a rarely seen combination of precision and passion during practice.

Kohli's precision is not the mere cold calculation of doing exactly what is required to be done; it seems so natural it's almost surreal. He bats with precision, he takes catches with precision, he does fitness drills with precision, he even gives throwdowns to team-mates with precision. And appears completely natural all the time.

Kohli's passion is not the uncontrollable childlike enthusiasm of a youngster. He will take several blinders at point during training and go down with a contorted face full of disappointment if he misses even one. There are many in this side who would not even go for such catches in the first place. Kohli gives the impression he really wants to be here, doing what he is doing, playing cricket for India.

He starts by thumping the spinners in the nets. There are a couple of local net bowlers and the three specialist India spinners - R Ashwin, Pragyan Ojha and Rahul Sharma. Kohli hardly differentiates between them. He charges out and carts them over the boundary. He lofts them into the stands. He crashes them off the back foot. Even from a distance of tens of metres, the sight is brutal. Not in the display of power, as MS Dhoni shows later, but in the relentlessness of it.

He moves on to taking high catches on the boundary. He takes them all. He leaps and takes them inches from the rope. He runs several yards in front to take them. He drops none. At no point does he appear to be straining himself. Is this man for real?

Now he takes those sharp ones at point. Virender Sehwag joins in for a few minutes, then walks away. Kohli continues to throw himself around. He goes with both hands, he goes with one hand. Suddenly, he drops one. And goes down as is he's dropped it in a World Cup final. Say what you will about the man's behaviour, but surely he can't be overdoing this reaction.

He now takes over the duty of hitting those high catches to his team-mates. And does it with gusto. Dhoni, who is among those taking the catches, asks for one close to the rope. The next ball promptly arrives where the captain wants it.

You would think at least now he would show some sign, one sign, of being tired. But wait. Gambhir wants to practice some back-foot punches. Who to give him throwdowns but his young Delhi team-mate? Kohli keeps banging them earnestly into the pitch and Gambhir keeps punching them sweetly till he is satisfied with the stroke.

Ah, he is done, finally. Surely, now he will show that he is tired. At least a deep breath? Not coming. The swagger is back in place as Kohli walks to the dressing room. He even poses for some photographs with a group of Sri Lankan fans. Did he smile broadly at the camera? Of course not. He's Virat.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

He is surely on the best cricket players in the game currently and this is a great article about his personality.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 10:53 GMT)

He is surely on the best cricket players in the game currently.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 8:37 GMT)

Every one will go thru a tough time of his life! lets see how he handles that.... master already passed these kind of tests.....

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 8:24 GMT)

Beautiful writing of a person's attitude!

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 7:38 GMT)

Beautifully written article! Well done!

Posted by DilshanRocks on (August 4, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

@Ahamd Uetian, nobody claims Kohli is in the league of greats. They say he WILL SOON be in the league of greats. In Hobart, the only chance of getting into the finals was to chase 320 in 40 ovrs and guess who scored a blistering hundred? The tournament finals point is valid, though.

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

Kohli is treat to watch, the shots he plays are great to watch. But i think hes media guy. Also give dis kid break, for him to break sachin's records is really tough (not impossible), i mean to be scoring runs consistently is not an easy job for 22 yrs....Let him play his game and score more runs and win for the country..good job man...

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

Of course he is not like any other player. He's Virat. don't compare him with selfish sachin please. now a days, when sachin score a hundred india lost that match. but virat score a hundred india win that match. i think virat is far better team player than sachin. he is the face of indian cricket. we young generation all love virat kohli for his attitude and performance on the field.

Posted by basophil on (August 4, 2012, 4:28 GMT)

@mark2011 what are you talking about? one team show?? first of all, he has so many records against sl because he plays sl so much! second of all he has scored centuries against all opponents except south africa: he made 118 against australia in a chase (and i'm sure a lot more to come against the aussies!), a 105 against NZ in the following game, a couple of centuries against west indies, century against bangladesh in world cup, a hundred against england in india as well as the 107 in england (who were at their peak), the mammoth 183 in only his third ever game against pakistan, and the back-to-back centuries against sri lanka on both subcontinental pitches as well as australian hobart pitch!!!

Posted by basophil on (August 4, 2012, 4:19 GMT)

give at least some credit to virat kohli. he has scored centuries against all opponents except south africa: he made 118 against australia in a chase (and i'm sure a lot more to come against the aussies!), a 105 against NZ in the following game, a couple of centuries against west indies, century against bangladesh in world cup, a hundred against england in india as well as the 107 in england (who were at their peak), the mammoth 183 in only his third ever game against pakistan, and the back-to-back centuries against sri lanka on both subcontinental pitches as well as australian hobart pitch!!!

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