Dubai: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a huge reality check among the top cricketers’ community, according to Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain. The agonising five months or lockdown, which made the Indian Premier League (IPL) a doubtful starter even three months back, taught them the virtues of accepting the ground realities in life during a raging pandemic.
‘‘We all have learnt to accept the reality of living in the bio bubble - and this acceptance is the biggest change among us. This has made us more appreciative of the things that you have in front of you and the kind of work the management has done to keep us happy. The players are also relaxed and this has been my biggest learning after spending my time for nearly a month in this environment,’’ said the Indian captain. The Royal Challengers trio of Kohli, wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel and promising batting talent Devdutt Padikkal were part of a zoom call during which the RCB management honoured three ‘Covid warriors’ from India for their exceptional work in diverse fields.
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While accepting that playing in front of empty stadiums in this IPL may feel ‘‘quite strange,’’ Kohli, however, felt there would be no drop in their intensity levels.
“All of us have thought about playing in empty stadiums. Of course it’s going to be a strange feeling. But that feeling has changed a little bit till now after having gone through a lot of practice sessions and couple of practice games with the teams as well,” said Kohli.
The master batsman wanted the players to realise as to why they started playing the game in the first place and what the bigger picture is. “At the end of the day, you understand why you play the sport and you started playing for the love of it. Now you have a chance to represent the love when the whole world is watching and that will bring a lot of joy to people. All the external factors become irrelevant. Crowds are an amazing part of any sport but that is not what you play for eventually.
The webinar, which also had RCB chairman Sanjeev Churiwala, kicked off with the luanching the franchise’s ‘My Covid Heroes Campaign’ - followed by video clips of Simran Jeet Singh, Hetika Shah and Zeeshan Javid. Simran Jeet, who and his wife are both deaf, formed a core group to help people with similar defficiencies by distributing food and other supplies; Setika started an initiative of making 4S protective shields while Javid and his brothers launched a ‘Milk Mission’ to provide free supply of milk for children to households across his city Bangalore.
‘‘The motivation drawn from these inspirational stories need not be limited to the field of sport only. They taught us that we need to get our priorities right and help put things into persective. When you act sefllessly in any field, you can create so much more impact,’’ Kohli observed.
Young Paddikal chipped in: ‘‘People like this have changed my concept of superheroes.’’
RCB, who have made three final appearances in IPL but are yet to win the title, will launch their campaign against Sunrisers Hydreabad in Dubai on September 21.