Shankar Basu
Team India’s strength and conditioning trainer Shankar Basu. Image Credit: K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

Manchester: There was a time when cricketers with even a potbelly could play for India. Fitness hardly mattered, unlike the current Virat Kohli regime, where you are considered for selection only if you pass the yo-yo fitness test.

The test was conceptualised by former Danish soccer player and Juventus assistant coach Jens Bangsbo for footballers. Recently, Ambati Rayudu failed the test and hence was not selected for the Indian team. Sanju Samson, who failed it, could not even make it to the India A team.

A trainer assists Virat Kohli to stretch
A trainer assists Virat Kohli to stretch during a training session at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. Image Credit: AFP

With skipper Kohli being a fitness freak, the importance that players give for fitness by maintaining a healthy lifestyle has gone up by several notches. The team culture is such now that players need not be told to be disciplined since it is a known fact that any slackness in fitness and they could end up being out of the team.

Incidentally, there is not even a curfew on players to return to the hotel since players know that lack of sleep or a late night can hit their fitness regime.

K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

It was interesting to watch the extent of workout that the Indian team’s strength and conditioning trainer Shankar Basu and physiotherapist Patrick Farhart impose to ensure that players are fit and that has been reflecting in their performance too. Basu, who is also the strength and conditioning coach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team in the IPL, gave a peek into what goes on and off the field with regard to the routines.

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“We try to educate them on the importance of respecting the Circadian rhythm (this is the 24-hour biological cycle within us that tells our body when to sleep, rise, and eat—regulating many physiological processes).”

As far as diet is concerned, Basu revealed that has introduced a non-invasive test called Dexascan. “Dexascan measures the bone mineral density. The moment you have a number in your hand and it says 20, 30, 10 or 12, there is a sort of healthy competition within the team.”

He then went on to explain the cardinal rule that he follows with the team. “We all look very differently from the outside and we function very differently from the inside as well. One man’s food can be another man’s poison. You can’t paint everyone with the same brush.”

India's captain Virat Kohli
India's captain Virat Kohli, centre, plays with his teammates during a training session at the Hampshire Bowl in Southampton. Image Credit: AP

Basu always warns his players not to have the misconception that everyone can get fit quickly. “Rome was never built in a day and for this team, this brand of training and culture started in 2015. What we see today is the result of the work done over the last three to four years.”

So is there a food plan for every player? What are his do’s and don’t’s? “The vegetarians will have one sort of plan and the non-vegetarians have another. Everyone must cut down on junk food big time. They may indulge in it sometimes.... what is life without indulgence?”

K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

Kohli has recently turned vegan. Basu then revealed that every player is given a report card after their DNA test. “The DNA test gives you an indication of what sort of a person you exactly are – whether you are power-oriented person or endurance-oriented person, whether you are gluten-intolerant or lactose-intolerant. This makes them all aware of what they are and which type. We don’t need to do anything. They have the report card and have started making informed decisions.”

K.R. Nayar/Gulf News

It was also a revelation that his players do not take a break from their disciplined lifestyle. “It is not like I’ll come for this camp, train for 10-15 days and then I’ll take a break. It has become a lifestyle for them now. And I think that once it has become a lifestyle, the results are there for you to see.”

Dos-and-donts for Men in Blue

  • Go to bed by at least 10.30 pm
  • Drink fish oil capsules (a minimum of 3 Grams)
  • Take one multi-vitamin everyday.
  • Eat atleast two fruits a day.
  • Eat a handful of dry fruits/nuts a day.
  • Snack on healthy foods every three hours.
  • Don’t consume any processed foods.
  • Do not consume deep fried foods.
  • Do not snack on sugar-based products.
  • Never go without food for more than three hours at any point of the day.
  • Consume at least three cups of vegetables a day.
  • Have proteins for every meal.
  • Do not consume grains after 6 pm.
  • Exercise at least 30 mins a day.
  • Relax with music/meditate/go for a jolly walk/ yoga.
  • Do not sleep more than 10 hours a day.
  • Do not sleep less than 7 hours a day.