New Delhi: Indian Test skipper Virat Kohli is currently in the form of his life. While he is often compared with the likes of Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Steve Smith, Kohli is the only cricketer ranked among top five batsmen in ICC rankings across formats.
On Tuesday, Kohli became the No. 4 batsman in ICC Test rankings after a brilliant show against England at Visakhapatnam. The 27-year-old slammed a brilliant 167-run knock followed by another valuable 81 runs in the second innings.
In an exclusive interview with The Telegraph, Kohli recalled the time when former coach Duncan Fletcher's advice led to his transformation as a professional cricketer.
“Duncan told me once that he feels cricket is the most unprofessional of professional sports,” Kohli told The Telegraph after India's comprehensive 246-run win against England at Vizag.
“You can have the skill but do not think you need to train as much as a tennis player. But I realised if you want to stay on top playing three formats in this day and age you need a routine.
“You need a set pattern of your training, the way you eat, how healthy and fit you need to be. Being fitter made me mentally stronger. It was like a direct connection,” Kohli recalled.
In modern day cricket, Kohli undoubtedly is one of the fittest cricketers. But that wasn't the case with him few years ago. Like most of the athletes, he too had problems of his own.
“My training was horrible, I ate so bad, I was up until late, I was having a drink or two regularly. It was a horrible mindset. The season ended and I was so thankful it was over. I went home, came out of the shower one day and looked at myself in the mirror and said ‘you can’t look like this if you want to be a professional cricketer.’
To become the world's best batsman across formats, Kohli was aware of the sacrifices he would have to make.
“I was 11 or 12kgs heavier than I am now, I was really chubby. I changed everything from the next morning from what I eat to how I train. I was in the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day. Working really hard, off gluten, off wheat, no cold drinks, no desserts, nothing. It was tough.
“For the first two months I felt I wanted to eat the bed sheet when I went to sleep because I was so hungry. I was craving taste. I was craving delicious food. But then I saw the results. I felt quick around the field. I would wake up in morning and feel like I had energy.
While most of the fans and cricketers wonder what's the success behind Kohli's meteoric rise, the batsman says that it was all possible as he continue to works hard and the results in the last one and a half years have been nothing less than phenomenal.
“From 2015 I changed my training again. I started lifting, snatching, cleaning and dead lifting. It was unbelievable. I saw the result. I remember running after a ball in a Test series in Sri Lanka and I felt more power in my legs. It was, like, ‘wow’. This training is addictive. The last year-and-a-half it has taken my game to another level,” he explained.