By: Sarwar Alam
Virat Kohli says he has “never felt so calm” going into an Indian Premier League season as the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper chases an elusive title in the Twenty20 tournament.
Kohli’s Bangalore finished runners-up in the 2016 edition but have since disappointed and were bottom of the eight-team table last year.
But the world’s leading ODI batsman expects a turnaround from a team containing big names such as South Africa’s explosive AB de Villiers and Australia’s big-hitting white ball skipper Aaron Finch.
“I (have) never felt so calm going into a season before,” Kohli said during an interview posted on his side’s YouTube channel on Monday ahead of the tournament beginning September 19 in the United Arab Emirates.
“He (de Villiers) is coming from a very different space and he is enjoying his life and is very relaxed and fit as ever. I feel I am in a much better space, much more balanced, when it comes to environment of (the) IPL.
“Aaron Finch is someone who has experience of playing international cricket.”
Kohli has captained Bangalore since 2013 and said the tournament being played outside India because of coronavirus meant his side would be “disconnecting with things that have happened in the past and not taking that baggage, as we have done that way too many times.
“Just because we have a bunch of players that are so skilled… people have had so much expectation,” he admitted.
Bangalore’s other imported talent includes South African pace bowler Chris Morris and little known Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Philippe.
“Morris brings in a lot of balance,” said Kohli. “Some of the youngsters we have picked this time are quite exciting too like Josh Philippe, a very exciting player.”
The IPL will be played across three venues within relatively close proximity — Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi — and Kohli feels that will lead to consistent playing conditions across the tournament.
“It (the usual home and away system in India) gets hectic, conditions change… This time, it’s more of a level playing field and everything would now boil down to skill level rather than home advantage,” he said.
“We have unpacked all bags and stacked clothes in the wardrobe. We go, practise, live in our own bio-bubble… It’s a more settled and calm feeling.”