For the Indian cricket team, the past couple of years have largely been a build-up to the upcoming ICC World Cup. And for captain Virat Kohli, the past 18 months have, perhaps, posed the most challenging times of his 11-year international career.

Test series defeats in South Africa and England last year were followed by the historic triumph in Australia. Then, Kohli’s team Royal Challengers Bangalore suffered yet another disappointing season in the Indian Premier League, with the focus firmly on him through the course of the T20 tournament.

Now, with the all-important World Cup just a fortnight away, Kohli is as determined as ever. The rigours of the season gone by and the disappointment of IPL 2019 have had no bearing on the fierce competitor fans will have high hopes from in England.

Kohli has achieved success in his career on his terms, and that has brought along with it its share of brickbats. The 30-year-old, though, is unperturbed. “I can never be a person who is calculated in what I want to do. My intent, always, is to do what I’m supposed to do at a given point in time - the right thing,” he was quoted as saying by The Times of India.

“I’m not going to be the guy who spends time thinking what others are thinking about me. I’m not saying this in a way where I offend anyone. That’s not how I’d like to convey this. There are people who are going to like what I’m doing, and others who are not going to like what I’m doing. As much as I can’t make everyone happy, it’s not like everybody in this world is against me either. So, it’s all a part and parcel of what you do.”

‘Don’t want to be centre of everything’

Kohli reiterated that he doesn’t crave for attention and if he does get it, good or bad, he doesn’t at all get affected by it. “Honestly, none of that makes a difference. I don’t want to be the centre of everything. Nobody wants that. But when your intent is to make the team win, eventually you end up doing things which are always going to be seen. Because I would always put my body on the line for the team.

“I’ll do all it takes when I’m batting, I would run as hard as I can ... So, once you’re committed and giving all that you can for one cause, you’re obviously going to end up being noticed. And that has to be fine with me, I have to live with it - because that’s how I want to play my game, that’s how I want to live my life. That, I think, is a blessing God has given and I want to continue doing that as long as I’m playing the sport.”

As loved as Kohli is for the staggering heights he has reached in his career, there are a fair few who have criticised his conduct over the years. The talismanic batsman is combative on the field, which is great because it brings the best out of him, but that aspect of his nature of has often translated into media interactions as well. He, however, believes he is misunderstood.

“Let me put it this way: You ask me a question and expect an answer, right? Now, take the answer. Sometimes I get the feeling that in asking the question, you’ve also figured out a potential answer to it inside your mind. Now, you expect me to echo it. When that does not happen, things usually slide from what the line of discussion is. Instead, what I feel is lacking is good, natural conversation. Be it media or anyone who has a responsibility towards the game outside of playing it – a flow of good, meaningful conversation always helps,” said Kohli.

“Here’s the thing, if you’re not being honest with yourself, you’re going to be found out. Sooner or later, that’ll be the case. You can’t mask your way to something and that’s where I’ll say this: I’ve never manipulated my way into something ever. I’ve always worked hard for it. That’s what I expect from everybody. Someone asking me a question often may develop the idea of an answer that he expects from me. What happens is when that answer does not conform to the idea that has already developed inside the mind of the person asking that question, because what I do understand is that engagement with media and playing a match are two separate moments.”

Read the full interview here.