Cricket
Virat Kohli launches into a trademark cover drive at the nets at ICC Cricket Academy on Friday. Image Credit: Twitter

Dubai: A picture of the cover drive shared by Virat Kohli, Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, from the IPL team’s first practice session at the ICC Academy ground on Friday is sure to bring back the Joie de vivre for his fans. The head is still as his bat meets the ball right below the eyeline - showing that the muscle memory has already kicked in.

“Been 5 months since the last time I stepped onto the field. Felt like 6 days when I got into the nets. Great first session with the boys @royalchallengersbangalore (sic.),” Kohli said in his official Twitter handle along with some photos of the session.

The last time Kohli played competitive cricket was during India’s Test series in New Zealand in February, a series which saw a rare sequence of failures from the best batsman of this generation. He was set to lead the side in an ODI series at home against South Africa in March. While the first match of the series in Dharamsala was washed off, the remaining matches were called off with the coronavirus pandemic setting in India and the South African side were escorted back to their country.

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The IPL, which was supposed to have started from March 29, was postponed indefinitely and found a long enough window when the T20 World Cup - scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November was postponed for the time being.

Ever since setting foot into Dubai on a chartered flight on August 21, each of the Indian captain’s moves were lapped up by the social media - be him soaking in the seafront view from the hotel balcony or religiously pumping weights - a culture which he introduced to his teammates as part of a regimen to increase fitness and endurance.

There was, of course, a pleasant departure on Thursday when he posted a picture with wifey Anushka Sharma with a post that legion of ‘Virushka’ fans had been waiting for: ‘‘And then we were three.’’ a take-off on the famous album by Genesis that Anushka was in the family.

It was during the early days of the lockdown in in May when AB de Villiers, a close friend of Kohli and a longtime teammate in the IPL side, revealed the man behind the mask of an intense, no-quarters-given professional in the Indian in an Instagram interview.

‘‘We talk about children and family. We are waiting for that first little Kohli to come,’’ the South African said during a chat with Zimbabwe pacer Pommie Mbangwa. ‘AB,’ as the Mr 360 of cricket is famous as, is expected to join Kohli & practice once his quarantine phase gets over soon.

Sparks will then fly at the practice aera of ICC Academy grounds - unfortunately behind closed doors thanks to the new normal.