Virat Kohli said he felt disgusted with himself during the 2012 season of the Indian Premier League because of how unfit he was at that time. In an interview with Graham Bensinger, the Indian captain spoke about the work he has done on his fitness since that difficult phase in his life.

“I remember I wasn’t disciplined at all in terms of my eating and fitness. I can’t even relate to the guy I was in those years. I feel like that was some other guy,” said Kohli.

“I was playing in the Indian team and in the IPL but the 2012 season of the IPL was very bad for me. My eating habits were horrible at that time. I remember coming back home, coming out of the shower and looking at myself in the mirror and feeling disgusted. I thought to myself: ‘You can’t look like that if you’re an international cricketer. How are you going to continue like this if you don’t take care of yourself’.

“And boom, from the next day itself, I changed everything about my diet. I started hitting the gym two times a day and kept away from junk food and had no cheat days at all. Within 8-10 months I lost six to seven kgs and then it became such an addiction because I could see the results on the field. I felt quicker, I felt lighter, I felt more focused and I realised that this is the path I wanted to take.”

The absence of fear or respect in the eyes of the opposition also made Kohli change his work ethic and become the “impact player” he is today.

“When I walked in to bat, there wasn’t any fear or respect in the opposition corner,” said Kohli. “I didn’t want to walk onto the ground thinking that the opposition feels that this guy is a pushover, who is going to do no damage.

“I didn’t want to be just another player and I wanted to make an impact. I wanted that when I walk in the opposition should think that we need to get this guy out or else we will lose the game. And if I don’t want to be that guy, then there is something wrong in my head.”

Kohli spoke about how fitness became an integral part of his life and how it helped him recover quickly, even as the Indian team crisscrossed the United Kingdom during a six-week World Cup campaign.

“During World Cup, in every game my energy level was 120%t. My recovery was so fast that the average distance I covered in a game was 15 kms. I would come back, do my recovery treatments and travel to another city and soon I was ready to train again. There was so much energy that I could do gym sessions and play 10 games in such a short span of time [35 days]. Played each game at high intensity and never felt like this before. There was no stiffness in my body,” said Kohli.

The 30-year-old considers Sachin Tendulkar – his idol – to be in a different league to him in terms of skills. “I knew I wasn’t the most skilled sportsperson when I came in but the only constant thing has been working on myself. If the Indian team has to be the best in the world, it needs to go about in a certain manner,” Kohli said.

“When we came back from Australia in 2012, I saw a gap [between us and Australia]. I realised, if we don’t change the way we are playing, training or eating, we can’t compete with best in the world. No point in competing if you don’t want to be the best. I wanted to be the best version of myself and then based everything around that vision, my approach to the game changed.”

Watch Virat Kohli’s interview with Graham Bensinger here:


[With inputs from PTI]