Shankar Basu, Royal Challengers Bangalore's strength and conditioning coach, feels Virat Kohli has come back from the pandemic-enforced break in cricket "in much better shape". Basu, who has worked with the Indian team as well, outlined in an interview with PTI how Kohli kept fit during lockdown, how RCB's return to training has been going, and how players' workload will be managed in the special current circumstances. Here are excerpts of his interview with PTI.
On Kohli's lockdown fitness routine: "He is at his best weight at the moment"
"He [Kohli] has come back in much better shape. He is at his best weight at the moment and his movement patterns are pretty much in sync with his best self in the past.
"He has taken this break as an opportunity to work on all the pointers which needed attention from a physical point.
"He had the time to be very specific with his meal plans and running intervals at home. He did not have much of a choice during the lockdown and he invested on a treadmill and worked on his endurance which is otherwise not possible during a packed calendar.
"He did shuttle running in his apartment, which had a little space. With all these constraints, the attitude stood out more than the workout.
"His customised strength work to compliment that was his mantra during the lockout. So a combination of running and strength work and he kept it simple by just following this to the T."
On being in touch with the RCB team during lockdown: "Everybody had a customised programme"
"We were not sure about anything then [during the lockdown]. We just ensured that everybody had a customised programme based on what equipment they had at their respective homes, and, kudos to the boys, they approached it diligently."
On RCB's return to training, in the UAE's demanding weather conditions, after the long layoff: "No fool-proof algorithm; a sensible approach is what we are taking"
"Since most of them have arrived in decent shape physically, it's only a matter of time [before] they are match ready.
"We ensured that everybody had a customised programme based on what equipment they had at their respective homes, and, kudos to the boys, they approached it diligently." Shankar Basu on RCB's training regime during the Covid-19 lockdown
"With regards to assessing a player's fitness, most of the workouts are a test in itself. As a coach, we have to be prudent that they tick the right boxes and drills, which can be an assessment.
"The coaching director [Mike Hesson] and the head coach [Simon Katich] and the entire support group are aware of a long layoff and ergo the planning with regards to the length of practice times, humidity, temperature and recovery is something we have worked as a team.
"There is no fool-proof algorithm for it but a sensible approach is what we are treading on."
On dealing with workloads - especially for the pacers - in the UAE's demanding conditions: "Hydration and diet important"
"Our bowling coach [Adam Griffith] has come with a specific plan [for the fast bowlers] pertaining to loads in the first two weeks and that will be used as a blueprint [for workload management going forward].
"Complementing the skills and choosing the right exercises to get the balance will provide the much-needed impetus for every bowler.
"The modern cricketers are very mindful of their meal plans. Hydration, balanced amount of protein, carbs, and good fat will do the trick. And to combat the heat - again, we have our wellness and load-monitoring system, which will be put to good use."