Dubai: It’s common knowledge that India’s cricket captain Virat Kohli is the richest cricketer in the universe according to the Forbes magazine, by a long chalk, but there is still a special place in his heart for the colony of west Delhi where he grew up.
‘‘There is a saying that you should never forget where you came from - and I can never forget my middle class roots in west Delhi. I still speak the same language when I meet an old friend from there, I am not going to put on something like - Bro, how are you, how is life - and act posh with him,’’ he said in a hilarious, no-holds-barred chat with Sunil Chettri, India’s football captain, on a live Instagram chat on Sunday evening.
It was a tale of two captains - who have been good friends at a family level for sometime now - connecting virtually during the ongoing lockdown and give a peek into their growing up in the Nineties and early part of this millennium, the early struggle which offered interesting insight into their personal lives.
‘‘One of the pluses of growing up in a society like where we did was we were never alone and always there for each other. You also picked up a lot of life skills there - I have helped my friends set up badminton courts where we could go on and one till midnight. When we were playing cricket, the ball would invariably land at a balcony where none could be possibly at home. I have climbed up the waterpipes to recover the ball...we were never afraid those days,’’ Kohli recounted.
The bond between Kohli and his father, Prem Kohli, has been well documented now - with the story of a young Kohli going out to complete his overnight innings in a Ranji Trophy match the day after his father’s death being almost a part of folklore. Asked when did his father realise that Virat had it in him to make a career in cricket, the Indian skipper said: ‘‘When I started playing at the state level from a very young age, I started getting paid per match and realised that I could get somewhere as a cricketer. However, when I went for my first tour with Under-19 Indian team as a 16-year-old, I got a decent sum by those day’s standards and my father took me to the bank to open a joint account - that’s when he must have realised that I am not going to be waste,’’ recalled Kohli.
Does Kohli have any regrets of not being able to return the favour for his dad, who was a big influence on his life? ‘‘My only regret possibly is I couldn’t give him a good retired life with nothing to worry about. I was 18 when he passed away and I had seen him spending his life doing his duty for us, his side of the family etc - I couldn’t give him a life of great retirement,’’ Kohli added.