India's captain Virat Kohli
India's captain Virat Kohli attends a press conference at the Hampshire Cricket indoor centre in Southampton, southern England, on June 4, 2019 ahead of their 2019 Cricket World Cup match against South Africa. Image Credit: AFP

Southampton: It was a pleasure to catch Indian skipper Virat Kohli in a soft and amiable mood at the press conference on the eve of South Africa match on Tuesday.

Many were surprised when he side-stepped a query on the disparaging comments made against him by Kagiso Rabada, who addressed him as immature in a recent interview. After saying he hadn’t read about Rabada’s comments at all, Kohli then went on to add: “I’ve played him many times and if anything needs to be discussed, we can discuss it man-to-man. I’m not using a press conference to answer anything.”

Knowing Kohli’s aggressive nature, one can imagine what a ‘man-to-man’ talk between Rabada and Kohli could be.

Kohli then surprised the assembled media by being sporting about Rabada. “Rabada is always going to be a world class bowler and a threat to any side he plays against. He has the kind of passion and a kind of skill-set with which, on his day, he can whip through any batting order. We’ve played well against him in the past and have been respectful of his skills,” he said.

Kohli demonstrated his human side when he showed his sympathies to Dale Steyn, who has been ruled out of the World Cup. “I’m really feeling bad for Dale because he looked really happy. He was bowling well but then suddenly, we find out that he won’t be able to continue. I feel bad for him because he’s been a friend for a long time and he’s a very motivated guy. He must be feeling gutted,” he added.

The Indian skipper earnestly admitted that leading in the World Cup has been special. “Honestly, it is a matter of great pride for me. While playing the 2015 World Cup, I never imagined this day then because the next World Cup was then too far off to think or predict anything. I am just feeling grateful that I’m in this position to get the opportunity to lead my country in a tournament like the World Cup.”

Will Kohli remain the same throughout the tournament? One can only wait and watch!