Dubai: The Royal Challengers Bangalore unit is looking more intense and hungry than ever before after two weeks of practice sessions in Dubai, according to their captain and master batsman Virat Kohli.
The Challengers, who made three final appearances but are yet to break their duck in the Indian Premier League (IPL), arrived on September 21 and got down to business after the customary six-day quarantine - alternately at the ICC Academy, Sharjah Stadium and the Oval grounds of the Emirates Sevens.
‘‘We are more hungry, more balanced than ever before after two weeks of practice. I am very happy with the way the team is shaping up,’’ Kohli said in a video on the RCB team’s Twitter handle.
‘‘When we started throwing in practice, a few shoulders were sore because the guys did not do it for five months. We had been away from the game for a while, hence we didn’t want to push anybody and get some niggles. We didn’t want to be like a maniac in our training like six sessions in six days. We have given ample free time to everyone and that’s how we plan to continue for the next few days,’’ said Kohli, who led the way in terms of intensity.
‘‘It’s a question of everyone feeling good and reach that optimum level going into the tournament. Over the next few days, we will be batting at the main wicket - trying to look at the hitting angles, pace of the wicket etc,’’ said the Indian captain. Kohli, incidentally, is the highest rungetter in the history of IPL with 5412 runs.
Meanwhile, former Pakistan pace ace Shoaib Akhtar praised India’s ‘cricket system’ for developing Kohli to become one of the leading batsmen of the present generation.
“Virat Kohli has reached a whole new level, but who is behind the Kohli brand? In 2010-2011, Kohli was nowhere to be seen. He was part of the ‘circle’; he was a brat like me. All of a sudden, the system supported him. The management went around him. He also realised that there’s a lot of reputation at stake,” Akhtar said on a YouTube show Cricket Baaz.
“It’s not his fault that he’s playing in an era of easy cricket, or if Sachin [Tendulkar] played in a tougher era or Wasim [Akram], Waqar [Younis] and Inzamam [ul-Haq] have played a much more competitive brand of cricket. So, if he’s scoring runs, what we can say about it?” he wondered.
Akhtar said runs speak on behalf of Kohli, who has scored 7,240 runs in 86 Tests, 11,867 in 248 ODIs, and 2,794 in 82 T20 Internationals.
“I criticise India as well. But if Virat Kohli has 12,000 runs, what else you can say. Rohit Sharma has two [three] double centuries in one-day cricket, what can you say? The opponent’s qualities should be known to us. Kohli has become the greatest batsman. What can you say? Should I say: he is a bad person or he is not a good player?” Akhtar argued.