The Indian cricket team skipper had a light conversation with Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri on Instagram.

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown, Indian football team captain Sunil Chhetri has been brushing up his skills as a journalist, by interviewing some of the most popular sportspersons in the country via a series of Instagram live video sessions. While the likes of IM Vijayan, Sania Mirza and Ashwini Ponnappa found themselves chatting with him in the past few days, Virat Kohli joined the star-studded list on Sunday.

Chhetri began the session by revealing that he had stopped following cricket following Sachin Tendulkar’s retirement, but then came back to enjoy the sport thanks to the current Indian cricket team skipper.

“Growing up, we were all fans of Sachin, but then he retired and I had my own profession to focus on, so I stopped following cricket,” he started.

“Then came Virat Kohli. Initially, he used to be this new kid who used to perform well and that was it. But, afterwards, he started scoring hundreds and winning matches for India whenever he was out on the pitch. That’s the reason why I got back to cricket.”

“Another reason why I am his fan is because of how unbelievably consistent he is when it comes to giving his very best for the game. He leaves no stone unturned while preparing for matches – be it his diet, his recovery, anything,” he explained.

“You (Chhetri) had given me the time of this interview earlier, so I finished my training just in time. You cannot say no to the skipper!” Kohli said as soon as he joined the chat, making sure the session started on a fun note. He further went on to describe how his day typically goes, as the whole country continues to remain in lockdown.

“I do a little bit of training everyday – you know how it is. You can relax, but you can never afford to go out of shape or deviate from the path that you are supposed to take. I know you do it as well because eventually we’ll have to get back to our respective responsibilities.”

During the video chat, the pair also reminisced about their childhood days when they used to play street cricket in New Delhi, where both of them were born and brought up. While one cannot really imagine either Kohli or Chhetri playing anywhere else but on turf pitches, the reality is that both of them had a pretty normal childhood which involved street cricket, makeshift badminton nets made out of cloth and lamp posts, and so on – based on their own admission.

He also went on to say that having the right mentality is important for him, regardless of the sport. Moreover, Virat Kohli made a statement saying that Portuguese legend Cristiano Ronaldo’s ‘beast mentality’ is one of the reasons why he absolutely adores him.

“There are lots of people who look extremely good on-field, but when it comes to turning up for big matches regularly, Cristiano stands out,” Kohli observed. “Like in last season’s Champions League tie between Juventus and Atletico Madrid. In the first leg, they lost 2-0, but despite that he asked all his friends and family to come and watch the return leg saying ‘it is going to be a special night.’ He then went on to score a hat-trick and take his team through to the next stage – all of it is just unbelievable.”

“That is a beast mentality. I can literally count on my fingers the number of people who can have that conviction to say something and then do it like that. That, for me, is extremely inspiring,” he added.

Sunil Chhetri then asked Kohli about the secret of his superhuman fitness, to which the latter replied that the credit for it go to Shanker Basu, the fitness trainer of his Indian Premier League (IPL) side Royal Challengers Bangalore.

“It (fitness and training) is everything for me, but I would not take credit for it. For me the biggest factor for my career to go to another level, has to be Shanker Basu. He was a trainer at RCB and it was he who introduced me to lifting. I was a bit hesitant as I had some back issues and also because it was a totally new concept for me. But, within three weeks I was amazed at the results that followed,” Kohli told the Bengaluru FC striker.

“After that, he worked with me on my diet, I started paying attention to what was happening with my body. I am doing only the basic things which my career requires me to do,” he continued. “Till the time I am done playing the sport, I will be a maniac. If you are playing for the country, you have to work hard, If you cannot do that, then you should step away,” quoted Virat Kohli.

The 2011 Cricket World Cup winner also credited his late father for all the success he has achieved to date on the 22-yard pitch.

“He was very clear from that start and wanted me to focus on studies. Study along with playing was his motto and he said that only when I am 200 % confident of succeeding in one can I then focus on doing one thing. When results started coming at the U-19 level, he stopped saying much about studies and observed that I deserve a chance,” he said.

“After whatever he did for the family, the only thing I could have done for him is to give him a life of great retirement. These are things you can do by giving a comfortable life without any worries. That’s the biggest gift I could have given him back. I miss him in an emotional way.”

The duo also talked about some of the golden sporting moments from the 1990s, most of which they watched growing up. “If I had to pick one innings and wish that I played it, it would have to be Sachin’s ‘Desert Storm’ innings (his back-to-back tons against Australia at Sharjah in the 1998 Coca-Cola Cup). Those memories are golden and can never be forgotten,” Virat Kohli signed off.

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