Babar Azam is a down to earth character, will go a long way as a player: Virat Kohli

Ahead of the nail-biting thriller against Pakistan in the Asia Cup on Sunday, former captain Virat Kohli talked about a plethora of subjects in an interview with show ‘Heart to Heart.’

Talking about the tournament and his relationship with Pakistan captain Babar Azam, Kohli said, “The first talk with Babar Azam was after 2019 WC, we sat down & talked a lot, he had lots of respect, that hasn’t changed even after doing so well in world cricket – he is so down to earth character, he will go a long way as a player”.

Talking about his memories from the Asia Cup and what it meant for the team, he said, “It has been a very special tournament personally for me. First Asia Cup I was part of was in 2010, we won the finals against Sri Lanka. Then in 2012 we couldn’t win as well as in 2014, but in 2016 we ended up winning; it was 20-20 after a very long time so Asia Cup for me always has been very memorable and yes the 183 definitely stands out for me personally because that was kind of a revelation for me. 23 and I could play at that level, big game against Pakistan in a big chase and I kind of surprised myself and then from there my belief grew more and more and that was special to me and I remember quite fondly as against Pakistan and against Bangladesh, I got 49 on very tricky pitch so these are kind of games always stay in your memory.”

In the same interview, he also revealed that during the break, he did not touch his cricket bat for a month — an instance which occurred for the first time in a decade.

“For the first time in 10 years, I didn’t touch my bat for a month. I came to realisation that I was trying to fake my intensity a bit recently. I was convincing myself that no, you had the intensity. But your body was telling you to stop. The mind was telling me to take a break and step back,” Kohli said.

“I’m looked at as a guy who is mentally very strong and I am. I am but everyone has a limit and you need to recognise that limit or things can get unhealthy for you so this period has actually thought me a lot of things that I was allowing to come to the surface and when I got that I embraced it. There is much more to life than just your profession or when you create such an environment people look at your identity on the basis of your profession and somewhere you start losing perspective as a human being.,” he added.

Kohli also stressed on the fact that sometimes a person should be able to say no and walk away from negativity. “Yes people love me and get inspired by me but who am I. So I have strongly recognized that the love and support drives me but that cannot be the representation of who I am. The demand of that position cannot be the representation of who I am. It is a huge blessing, to get the love and support and I’m very grateful and blessed that I have so much love and support but for you as a person as a human being you should be clear with what you want and you should be able to say no and walk away from things that your mind is not allowing you because your mind will try and keep you in a space where it fills with negativity but no try, you can do it, try a bit more but it’s not healthy,” he said.

Kohli gave the examples of contemporaries like Ben Stokes, Trent Boult and Moeen Ali and the effect of a gruelling schedule on sportspersons. “You can tend to get carried away with so much demands now a days such schedules get piled up again and again. You have seen the results of what happened to Ben Stokes and Trent Boult, Moeen retiring from test cricket. These aren’t abnormalities but happen and people who are in touch with them know what’s happening in their lives,” Kohli said.

“I’m not shy to admit that I was feeling mentally down. This is a very normal thing to feel, but we don’t speak because we are hesitant. We don’t want to be looked at as mentally weak. Trust me, faking to be strong is far worse than admitting to being weak,” he added.

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