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!!!

Posted by   on (August 4, 2012, 4:07 GMT)

Virat Kohli is Talented no doubt about it. During his initial stay at the crease if you notice he pokes the bat around off stump , this is when he looks vulnerable. If he gets through that phase he settles in very well. Around off Stump should be the strategy upfront. Had u noticed how he got out in australia was around the same line. Siddle, Hilfenhaus they stuck to that line which they normally do and it yielded results... He has to prove himself all around the globe in challenging conditions then we will come to some conclusion. The great Sachin handled off field activities exceedingly well. This attitude of his is highly associated with what he has achieved over the years.... i wonder whether Kohli will be able to keep his cool off- field. I also get some feeling that he is conscious about the media, the attention he is getting. This might eventually get to him.

Posted by Romenevans on (August 4, 2012, 3:21 GMT)

Rare talent, Awesome swagger type attitude that keeps him kicking all the time. The only thing i hope for him is that He shouldn't become the Captain. We all know what dhoni was before captaincy and what he has become after that. Dhoni is still a good batsman, but he become more of a finisher but we all wanted to see him play those swashbuckling inning that he used to play at no.3. I hope Kohli stays at no.3 and keep playing these amazing innings without the burden of Captaincy.

Posted by lovepork on (August 4, 2012, 1:24 GMT)

VIRAT KOHLI! you are the man, you are amazing! with due respect to Sachin, Dravid, Laxman, I think you are the real match winner, you have the aggression the fearless attitude which sets your apart from others. Can't think of anybody else who had the total package like you! keep up the good work, we love you!

Posted by   on (August 3, 2012, 23:47 GMT)

I am also a pakistani but this man is great to see. his determination on field, his enthusiasm and the will to stay at crease till "the team wins" in his eyes. I cant say he is so great as sachin, lara and such, but he has his own genius and hope he can play long his typical and precise cricket. Good to see young players making new records....

Posted by Sajeel.Ah.Hdrktz on (August 3, 2012, 20:54 GMT)

He is not like SRT not Lara not Pointing etc etc he is complete great of all of them He is Kohli. I am Pakistani but i like this guy he is true God of Cricket Complete Genious

Posted by   on (August 3, 2012, 18:51 GMT)

So long as Kohli doen't win big games for India he is not in the league of greats...........SRT recently won VB 08 Australia finals, Asia Cup final in 2010, was highest scorer in WC 96 and WC 2003 and 2nd highest scores in WC 2011, He has been MOM in 7 tournament finals and has avg of 54 in tournament finals......and yet people say he is overrated ...LARA hasn't won any final and his avg in finals is meager 35. He has only won dead rubber games be them Test matches or ODIs and people call him match winner..................Greats are big game players and rise to big occasions...........We'll see Kohli he fares in big games

Posted by mark2011 on (August 3, 2012, 18:15 GMT)

this guy good batsman no doubt.. but the way he played last 10 ODI is not the same way he is going to play evry macth comes iin future.. dont be foolish & ovr joy just looking at curent form of a player.he is in good touch and morevr great LUCK!!!..he has perfomred well against SL,90% of this new found joy only agsinst SL..also all big scores he made came after with minimum of 2 drop chances except in one inning.so its a indication of LUCK of couse no doubt he is well talented.when time is right & things works for u evry thing goes well..also when it is bad.. evry good thing one do also goes bad and even to worst.see SRT now, some Ind fans want him out of the team or his retiremnt, not so far ppl critising it was 2months before when Ind was thrashed in AUS.. ther were big hue & cry.. so Kholi wil so be part of sooner or later. @777aditya what use if he only bat againt SL, then he is one team suces man that is it, that too wont long last.

Posted by   on (August 2, 2012, 23:31 GMT)

Where are the bowlers in India with this attitude?

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 2, 2012, 20:41 GMT)

@tusker17 - he has already won an u19 world cup as captain. In him and Gambhir are Indias future. I only wish we could unearth bowling talent of the same determination as Kholi displays.

Posted by pitch_it_up on (August 2, 2012, 20:21 GMT)

While I like his intensity during practice sessions, I also get some feeling that he is conscious about the media the attention he is getting. This might eventually get to him. He should let lose himself and start enjoying his game/practice sessions.

Posted by Tusker17 on (August 2, 2012, 19:47 GMT)

The worst thing that Indian Cricket can do for the young man is to give him the captaincy ! GREAT young player !

Posted by MunafAhmed811 on (August 2, 2012, 19:20 GMT)

I dont care if breaks Sachins records or not....he is winning matches.....completing task at hand ..not just playing a good innings. He and Raina are good finishers atleast in ODI. Now if only Tiwary and Rahane get a extended run I am sure he equally good once his confidence goes. Rohit is talented but lazy i guess and he needs to be asked to go back to ranji or county and get his game in order. If all adopt the work ethics of kohli ...then in 2 years Indian batting ODI lineup looks good..like --- Gambir, Rahane , kohli, tiwary,rohit,dhoni,raina..All talented players who can become the next fab5.

Posted by Arapode on (August 2, 2012, 18:05 GMT)

Kohli is destined to break records at a much younder age than Tendulkar if he continues to preserve his form and physical fitness considering the no of games being played nowadays. With his current Century rate 8-9 /year and that he is yet to reach his peak form and a bigger role awaiting in tests I reckon he would surpass Sachin's record of 100/100s when he is 33-34 years of age..

Posted by   on (August 2, 2012, 17:55 GMT)

His hardwork and talent would make him very soon the Indian Team Captain....He is a rigorous hardworker..........I just hope that he curbs his attitude ...he is bound to become one of the great players.....n he is going to perform in one days or tests...He has age with him..........i am waiting to see him become the captain of our one day team soon .............

Posted by kalyanbk on (August 2, 2012, 17:44 GMT)

Kohli reminds me of a young Ricky Ponting. I am glad he now smiles when he gets a century.

Posted by PD2020 on (August 2, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

We want somebody who could give more than 100%. He not only shows his skills but emotions also. Only suggestion (I don't want to sound like an expert) if you are reading this VIRAT. When you play off you pads watch out for change of pace - because I always feel while watching you bat that you could end up getting LBW or caught at short midwicket or square leg to chnage of pace delivery on middle and leg.

Posted by   on (August 2, 2012, 16:39 GMT)

He should lose the attitude. It's not good. He should be friendly, smile, have fun. Otherwise people will start taking him as arrogant. My favorite part:" 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." Awwww, so sweet. I love it when Virat and Gautam are together. Another favorite: "Did he smile broadly at the camera? Of course not. He's Virat." Lose the harshness dude, you should be happy you have so many fans.

Posted by   on (August 2, 2012, 15:54 GMT)

There goes the media again...raise the guy to heaven and wait till he fails...no one talks about his commitment then....

Posted by timohyj on (August 2, 2012, 15:05 GMT)

people say form is temporary, but Virat has been in this dream run scince the latter half of 2010. His temperament is amazing. He always stays to finish it off in a chase unlike a certain rohit sharma. Aslo, his technique outside the off stump which was a little shaky earlier on has improved dramatically. Now he always leaves carefully or defends solidly when he needs to. he is desstined for great things in test cricket now, because he hasn't had many chances yet. I aways thought no one will ver get close to sachin's record of 49 ODI 100's but kohli has 13 and he is 23. He will probably pass sachin if he plays til he is 36-38

Posted by Scrop on (August 2, 2012, 14:56 GMT)

@ MDCP - Not at all. Sachin will be the 1st to call him when and if he breaks his records, before that Sachin will be the 1st to motivate him to try it. I agree, Virat is definitely good player - the present and future of Indian Cricket.

Posted by   on (August 2, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

Am I missing something? Isn't this expected out of every player who represents a national team? I love this bloke and I am sure he is going to break the records of Sachin in the ODI arena (if he stays away from injury and if ODI survives for another 10 years), and he will be a truly deserving heir. However there is no need to over do the appreciation of his work ethic. Any sincere national player is supposed to be like that.

Posted by Rahulbose on (August 2, 2012, 14:52 GMT)

Kohli is one young player India has handled well in recent times. His career is a perfect storm of talent and passion getting the opportunity at the right time. Now someone should motivate him to attack the test cricket challenge and India will have a champion paying at his prime.

Posted by StatisticsRocks on (August 2, 2012, 14:34 GMT)

I wouldnt anoint him as the next WALL or the next Sachin or even give nominate him for Bharat ratna. He has a long way to go so please stop treating him like a god or hero already. Let him prove outside of the sub continent and more importantly in test matches. Yes this guy is extremely talented so let us not destroy it by pouring accolades before it is well earned.

Posted by pradeep_dealwis on (August 2, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

He's a talent. attitude probelm? yes, definitely. But he's a talent

Posted by ut4me87 on (August 2, 2012, 14:22 GMT)

Nowhere it is mentioned his practice against fast bowers, or bowling machines in the nets at 150km/hr and he is trying the pull shot. He has to face the fast bowers with ease in Test Cricket if can be compared to Dravid or Tendulkar.

Posted by QingdaoXI on (August 2, 2012, 14:06 GMT)

@sud-vm very good, actually because of this nature he stays very less time on crease. He is just 33, Rahul Dravid was 39 when he retire early this year, but he was last guy who leave the practice session, that is passion and hunger for succes, but our Sehwag thinks its ok hit some big runs in once a while than contibute in between with some 30's and 10's. Sehwag doesnt have work ethic and also has lost the passion for the game.

Posted by Deenesh on (August 2, 2012, 14:05 GMT)

work ethic among indian players, especially young ones is rare. Definitely Virat is destined to do great things in cricket. Let the comparisons between Virat and Sachin start rolling in!

Posted by sud_vm on (August 2, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

Virender Sehwag joins in for a few minutes, then walks away. this is the most hilarious part of the article...

Posted by ProdigyA on (August 2, 2012, 13:39 GMT)

Ive seen many people calling him Ricky Ponting of India. Not sure that is a good title, i think he is destined for much bigger things, way bigger than Ricky.

Posted by MDCP on (August 2, 2012, 13:37 GMT)

i'm srilankan but to me this guy is simply great. many call him the future of indian cricket. dont forget he is the definetly the presant of indian cricket too. nobody has done better than him in the side for india in the last few years. i hate virat when he is playing vs sri lanka bse he is so successfull against us but against any other opposition I luv to watch this man bat. he is definetely a future great!!! keep going young man!! Tendulkar is going to have some sleepless nights ahead when this bloke starts breaking all those records.

Posted by   on (August 2, 2012, 13:22 GMT)

really he wont feel satisified even after hitting a triple century, i think, he always want self satisfaction which he found in his teams victory on his hand....tats y he is getting that many man of the matches as well as more centuries while chasing.....thats y he is kohli

Posted by Riderstorm on (August 2, 2012, 13:15 GMT)

I sincerely hope the writers aren't putting him on a pedestal to knock him off to the ground when the dream run ends. I think virat has all the qualities to make it to the best of the generation cricketer but there is still time before we flatter him with our praises.

Posted by DibblyDobbler2 on (August 2, 2012, 13:08 GMT)

If only some of the others chosen to play for India had that intensity ...a certain Zaheer comes to mind ..not to mention Munaf, RP Singh ...and all of those others only too keen to please the opposition and take the fat pay cheque... First is First ....second is nothing .....

Posted by K.a.l.i.n.g.a_D_w.a.r.r.i.o.R on (August 2, 2012, 12:56 GMT)

Keep the hunger going on Virat ( Ricky Ponting of India) .....

Posted by sweetspot on (August 2, 2012, 12:51 GMT)

What else is he supposed to do? Play the flute? Let's not make this out to be some irregular freak professionalism in cricket. This is the life of many dedicated cricketers around the world. Form is temporary, so hopefully Virat will learn to see how he can stretch it, and take it into the realm of true class.

Posted by Narbavi on (August 2, 2012, 12:48 GMT)

Virat - THE FUTURE WALL OF INDIA, at no.3 he is destined to be more successful than Dravid in ODI's, infact i would say that in few years time he would become even more successful than Tendulkar, may be not in terms of runs but definitely in terms of winning games for India, and surely he is our new no.3 in tests too in place of THE WALL, he may not become as successful as Dravid in the test arena but surely right now he is the ideal replacement. Go Champ!!

Posted by 777aditya on (August 2, 2012, 12:47 GMT)

"Did he smile broadly at the camera? Of course not. He's Virat." -) will he spare the helpless, hapless, hopeless Lankans in the last match? Of course not, He's VIRAT!

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