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Kohli not in favour of Impact Player: 'Not every team has a Bumrah or Rashid'

"One extra batter is the reason why I am playing with a 200-plus strike rate in the powerplay"

Yash Dayal and Virat Kohli celebrate Abishek Porel's wicket, Royal Challengers Bengaluru vs Delhi Capitals, IPL 2024, Bengaluru, May 12, 2024

"I have never experienced anything like it where bowlers think they will concede a four or a six every ball" - Virat Kohli  •  BCCI

Virat Kohli has admitted that he is not in favour of the Impact Player rule, as it is "disrupting the balance" of the game. The Royal Challengers Bengaluru batter said he was concerned that there is no longer an "equal battle between bat and ball" as bowlers now expect to get hit for a boundary every single delivery, and batters such as himself are forced to score at a high rate right from the powerplay.
Kohli is the latest player to speak out against Impact Players, echoing the sentiments of his India captain Rohit Sharma, who had said last month that he was "not a fan" of the rule.
"I agree with him [Rohit]; I say it how it is. If you see in this IPL, okay, entertainment is [on] one side, but the bowlers are feeling like what they should do [to restrict the batters]," Kohli told Jio Cinema. "I have never experienced anything like it where bowlers think they will concede a four or a six every ball. This is a very high-level of cricket, and in my opinion, it shouldn't be that dominant [in one aspect]. There is a beauty in having an equal battle between bat and ball.
"Not every team has a [Jasprit] Bumrah or a Rashid Khan or a mystery bowler. So what will you do? I am telling you, one extra batter is the reason why I am playing with a 200-plus strike rate in the powerplay. I know there is a batsman coming in at No. 8 as well.
"As a batsman, I can say this rule is good, but the match should be exciting. Only fours and sixes are not exciting in cricket. Exciting is that you can defend 160 as well. So I think a bit of balance has been tipped over."
Other than Rohit, Delhi Capitals coach Ricky Ponting, Axar Patel and Mukesh Kumar also recently voiced their displeasure about the Impact Player rule. On the other side of the fence, Rajasthan Royals allrounder R Ashwin and former India coach Ravi Shastri backed the rule, suggesting that players have to evolve with the times. Last week, BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said that the rule was being used "like a test case".
"We will consult with the players, franchises, [and] broadcasters, [and take a call]. This is not permanent, [but] I am not saying that it will go," Shah had said.

Kohli 'hungry as ever' ahead of T20 World Cup

The T20 World Cup begins just five days after the IPL final on May 26, and Kohli is looking forward to the tournament with renewed "hunger". Kohli, who will be turning 36 later this year, will be playing his sixth T20 World Cup since his first in 2012, having also played in four ODI World Cups since 2011. Kohli said that the "energy" at a competition like a World Cup always helps him get "pulled in".
"I can say I am hungry as ever. If I don't have the hunger, you will not see me in the tournament," he said. "If I don't have that mindset, I cannot play... Once the team atmosphere builds up, it's a beautiful journey. We had one in the last [ODI] World Cup [as well]. We really enjoyed the World Cup.
"Unfortunately, we could not finish it off, but we had a really enjoyable time as a team. People loved watching us as well, and I am sure that we will have a really good tournament this time as well."
While referring to the ODI World Cup last year, where India fell short in the final against Australia in Ahmedabad, Kohli said there was no regret at having lost the match. Instead, he recalled the only two instances when he "had a heartbreak", both of which happened to be in the year 2016.
"One was the [T20] World Cup. I was in a space where I was feeling no matter what, I could do it," Kohli said, looking back at India's defeat to West Indies in the semi-final in Mumbai. "But those no-balls and this and that, that took me a long time to get over. The next day I was literally drained and couldn't get out of my room. It was very hard on me.
"And then when we lost the IPL final here [in Bengaluru]. It felt like that was written in the stars - from the position we were in and then reached the final. We were chasing 200-odd [209], and in nine overs, we were 100-something without loss. When AB [de Villiers] got out, we needed 68 [actually, 71] off 42 balls with eight wickets in hand. If you look at it, you feel like how did you lose that game?"

'I have learnt by failing again and again'

Kohli has batted at a strike rate of 155.16 so far this season, his highest across any IPL he has played in. His previous best was 152.03 in 2016, when he had come close to breaching the 1000-run mark in a single edition.
Earlier this season, Kohli had even brushed off the strike-rate debate, and hit back at those speaking "from a box". Kohli felt he didn't need to "tell anyone what sort of player I am, or what my ability is".
"I never asked anyone how to win games for your team. I have learnt it myself - by being in that situation, by failing again and again," he said. "You can win the odd game for your team, but if you are doing it again and again, it's not by chance."
Kohli gave the example of MS Dhoni, who is regarded as among the best finishers in limited-overs cricket. He said that while Dhoni was often criticised for taking a game deep, he still came out successful.
"I always say that watching it from the outside and living that moment yourself are two very different things," Kohli said. "People used to often say about Mahi bhai that why he takes it to the 20th over or the 50th over. But he finished so many games. He was the only one who knew what he was doing. No one else knew but he knew, and [he] won the games. For me, that is muscle memory. He knew that if he could take it to the last over, he would see it through.
"We have had some great memories, [and] great partnerships together playing for India. So that's always a great occasion when people see us together playing on the field"
Virat Kohli on playing against MS Dhoni in the IPL
"My mindset was different. I would always say, 'Mahi bhai, let's finish it in the 19th, or the 49th'. If he is batting with me, then it's different; but if he is batting alone, then there is no chance [of him finishing it off early]. He will take it till the end, and the opposition would be like he would finish it with one six.
"So I never felt that I should go and tell someone that don't say all this. I know what I can do on the ground. I don't need any approval, or assurance, that I played so well."
Ahead of RCB's final group game, against Chennai Super Kings at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru, Kohli looked forward to playing against Dhoni yet again, unsure if it would be the last time they would face off in the IPL.
"It's going to be a great game. Me and him playing again together - maybe for the last time, you never know," Kohli said. "That's a special thing. We have had some great memories, [and] great partnerships together playing for India. So that's always a great occasion when people see us together playing on the field."