India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday said his Royal Challengers Bangalore teammates have become more accepting of living in the Indian Premier League bio-bubble and there is no “desperation” for a change of environment as they approach the tournament proper from September 19.

RCB landed in the UAE on August 21 and have been training for more than two weeks, including some intra-squad practice games ahead of the 13th edition of the IPL.

“To be honest we have become more accepting of the situation around us. Acceptance is the biggest change I have experienced,” said Kohli in a virtual media conference organised to honour citizens who have played their part during the pandemic.

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“When we spoke of the bio-bubble for the first time, we discussed about appreciating the things we have and the situation. All of us have become very relaxed in that environment.

“If we were not being accepting, then we would be sad or upset about the surroundings. But there is no desperation of any sort.”

It will be the first time that IPL matches will be held in the absence of a packed crowd but Kohli said it is the need of the hour.

“All of us have thought about it (initially) and it would be a strange feeling and I won’t deny that. But the feeling has changed little bit after the training sessions and practices games,” he said.

“At the end of the day you just need to understand why you started playing the game, you started playing for the love of it. Crowds are main part of the game but that is not what you play for.

“This time we’re playing for a bigger reason. To bring smiles back on people’s faces, those who’ve faced tough times due to the pandemic. I can only say one thing that our intensity levels will not drop, I can assure you. There is a larger reason why all this is happening.”

Kohli paid tribute to frontline workers during the pandemic.

“In the past few months, whenever I heard the stories of the Covid Heroes it has given me literal goosebumps. These real challengers have made the country proud and inspired all of us to be more persistent and dedicated to our efforts to build a better tomorrow.

“I am truly proud to wear RCB’s My Covid Heroes jersey as a sign of solidarity and gratitude to everyone who is right now going the extra mile to support the community at large. They have batted day and night and fought on the field, and I am honoured to call them my heroes,” Kohli was quoted as saying by the franchise. The skipper also interacted with a select few individuals who have been involved in various kinds of relief work.

Kohli was joined by teammates Parthiv Patel and the young Devdutt Paddikal in the interaction.

“It has sunk in (staying in bio-bubble). We did not put saliva on the ball during practice games and are taking care of ourself. It is very important to be safe,” said Patel.

“Honestly, it is my third year with the team, I have never seen this kind of environment before in my career. Everyone is smiling and that is what is important,” he added.

(With PTI inputs)