‘Turnaround in Indian cricket is because of what Virat Kohli has done’: Kevin Pietersen

New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Former England cricketer Kevin Pietersen has pondered over the significant impact Virat Kohli has had on Indian cricket players, describing it as transformative and said the 35-year-old batter is responsible for a “turnaround in Indian cricket”. Pietersen emphasised Kohli’s commitment among his teammates, saying the right-handed batter, a fitness freak who always focused on maintaining his fitness standards, has turned Indian cricketers into out-and-out athletes.

While speaking on Star Sports Cricket Live, Pietersen spoke on the impact that Kohli has had on Indian cricket and his teammates. “One of the things that everyone will remember and will create the greatest memories as a player will be him finishing innings and being one the greatest finishers of all time.

“One of the things that he has done for Indian cricket is he has turned Indian cricketers into athletes, out and out athletes, and while doing so, he’s not just talked the talk. He has walked the walk, and you can see that,” he said.

“When he is running between the wickets, his full commitment and his energy and his desire to be the best and he is the best. That starts before the field, that starts with diet, that starts with the energy he puts in the gym, that starts with the sacrifices that he has made to walk the walk because when you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. That’s why all the other players who have played under you are following you, watching you. The turnaround in Indian cricket is because of what he has done,” added the former England skipper.

Pietersen further commended Kohli’s remarkable display against Punjab Kings (PBKS) in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, noting his comfort and the electrifying atmosphere he ignites in the stadium.

Kohli, who returned to action after a two-month break, played an impressive knock of 77 off 49 balls to help RCB get their first points of IPL 2024 on board and was adjudged player of the match while also receiving the Orange Cap for topping the list of highest run-getter for the season after two games in the tournament.

“It is tremendous to watch Virat. It is so nice to see him play and feel so comfortable. He had a long break for personal reasons and to see him just make the stadium turn on the way the stadium can turn on.

“It’s something that he really feeds off. I spent some time with him before the game. We had quite a lengthy conversation. You can almost see in his eyes. He’s back in the Chinnaswamy Stadium and he wants to turn it on, and this evening he turned it on,” said Pieterson.

Former India cricketer Varun Aaron also praised Kohli’s performance against PBKS, saying, he throws the bowlers off their plans and makes them bowl where he wants them to bowl.

“Virat Kohli loves big occasions. He loves big crowds. He loves to come back to Chinnaswamy Stadium and play with the big crowd after a huge break. I know the first match didn’t go that well like he would have wanted to go but that doesn’t matter for somebody of that stature. He just took the bowlers on, made a mistake initially but then never let them have a chance at all.”

“See, Virat Kohli’s greatness is how he throws the bowlers off his plans. Any batsman wouldn’t want any bowler to bowl that length to which he almost got caught in the first ball. The next ball he stepped out, he didn’t let the bowler settle into his lengths. And that’s a mark of a great batsman. A great batsman will make you bowl to where they want you to bowl, they don’t let you bowl where you want to bowl. And Virat Kohli does just that and that’s why he’s so successful in international cricket and at the IPL,” he added.

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