Virat Kohli termed the relentless trolling of Ravi Shastri as “agenda-driven”, saying the India coach is least affected by the perception that he is the captain’s yes man.
Get up, face the fast bowlers with “courage” and “without a helmet”, average 41 as an opener -- Kohli mentioned all that Shastri did as a player in his scathing riposte to the current coach’s critics.
“I think most of these things are agenda-driven and I don’t know whose, why, what for, but to accept lies in that manner, it couldn’t be anything but agenda-driven,” Kohli told India Today on its special show ‘Inspiration’.
“... In Ravi bhai’s case, luckily, he is a person that doesn’t care at all.”
Starting out as a slow left-arm spinner, Shastri went on to open the innings for India and also won the famous ‘Champion of the Champions’ Award in the 1985 World Series Cricket, and Kohli touched upon all that while offering his unequivocal support to the head coach.
“(Promoted from) number 10 to opener and got an average of 41 as an opener, he is not going to be bothered about someone sitting at home and trolling him, because if you want to troll a guy who has done that, then get up, face those bowlers, do what he has done, have the clarity to do it, have the courage to do it, then have a debate with that guy,” Kohli said in his message to the trolls.
“He is absolutely chilled out, he says our only focus is how we can be the best team of all time. I think these petty things on the outside, they don’t matter at all to him.”
After the rout of Bangladesh in the Test series recently, Kohli called his fast bowling arsenal as a “dream combination” that can torment any opposition on any kind of surface. This was done without Jasprit Bumrah.
The skipper said there is always bonhomie among his fast bowlers, not an iota of insecurity despite all the successes and the intense competition.
“There is no jealousy at all and that is their biggest strength, they don’t care whether Shami is at 7 now or Jassi is at whatever ranking he is or Ishant,” Kohli said.
“I think full credit has to go to them to these guys that they have been able to create this aura around them because of that friendship that belief and the intent being in the right place.”
While Sachin Tendulkar is the one he looks up to among cricketers, Kohli’s favourite in the sporting world is ace footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I think Cristiano Ronaldo because I like the fact that is targeted on a daily basis but he has the mental strength, the will to work hard and the desire to keep coming back.
“For me, those things matter more than someone having absolute unreal natural ability, which is (Lionel) Messi, so I am in awe of Ronaldo.”
Kohli has made a habit of creating records, something that has often drawn comparisons with his idol, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar.
“Well I don’t know how to explain it I mean I just hate losing. Basically I hate losing in anything, that is how a sportsman is made up, that is the makeup of any sportsman competing at the highest level,” he said.
“I don’t want any maybe, I don’t what any ifs when I walk on to that field it is an honour for me, and when I walk out I want to have zero energy left.
“I’m actually always trying to avoid that feeling and that’s why I go along about my work in a crazy manner. I just have to put all my effort into every ball that I play, field or I am a part of.”
Kohli also added that his actress wife Anushka Sharma is a “soft target”, breaking his silence on former player Farokh Engineer’s claim that she was served tea by one of the selectors during the World Cup.
The 81-year-old Engineer recently ridiculed the credentials of the five-member selection panel, led by MSK Prasad and comprising Sarandeep Singh, Jatin Paranjpe, Gagan Khoda and Devang Gandhi, claiming that he saw one of them serve tea to Sharma during the World Cup in England.
The 31-year-old captain was surprised by the allegations and said dragging her name was not right.
“She came for one World Cup game against Sri Lanka and the family box and the selector box was different, and there was no selector in that box. She came with two friends. As I said, she is known, she’s been successful at a very high level so when people take her name, it gets noticed,” Kohli told India Today.
“You want to mention something about the selectors do that, but why join her name with it.”
“When the lies are spoken so much all around, they start becoming truths. So you need to speak up at some stage and that’s exactly what happened recently.”
Sharma has often been accused of getting preferential treatment in the Indian cricket fraternity but Kohli rubbished all the allegations, saying his wife’s value system would never allow her to do anything wrong.
“So much has been said about her and so much comes out about her. The value system that she has and her beliefs and the nature she has, it won’t allow her to go against rules and protocols.
“So I don’t know why people have wanted to sensationalise stories by taking her name because she’s a soft target. We both had been ignoring it for a while,” Kohli said.