Can still be a leader within team, drive it forward towards success: Kohli

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Batting stalwart Virat Kohli may have stepped down as Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper, but he says he “can still be a leader within the team and drive it forward towards success” in the IPL season which kicked off on Saturday.

After giving the hot seat to Faf du Plessis, Kohli will take the field without wearing the captain’s armband for RCB for the first time since 2012.

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“You can still be a leader within the team, drive the team forward towards success and winning trophies and titles, but I take a lot of pride in contributing for the team,” Kohli said in an interview posted on RCB website.

“That for me is a very exciting space to be in because you are an individual who’s part of a team, whether you’re a captain or not, you’re still an individual who’s part of the team.” He said he’s lucky enough to see RCB’s transition under former South Africa skipper.

“A lot of people see transitions happen when they are away from the system. I’m lucky enough to see it happen in front of my eyes, while I’m still part of the larger picture.” The 33-year-old announced last year that he would play for RCB till the day he retires.

“You got to still look for ways to contribute to your environment, and I’m certainly in a space where I’m gonna help him with anything that I can,” he said.

A chance to restructure and rethink about himself

Kohli also opened up about being unburdened from his captaincy responsibilities after almost a decade and said it’s a chance for him to restructure, rethink himself.

“It’s a wise thing for anyone to create some space for themselves, just take a deep breath and restructure things and say ‘Hold on, I might not have looked at a lot of things that I need to work on, and here’s a chance for me to restructure, rethink about what I want to do’.

“…and just find things to improve, find little bit at practice something that you look forward to. That is something I’ve experienced in this phase.” He further said he’s enjoying coming to practice and focusing on his skills much more after the captaincy responsibilities took a back seat.

“Not that you don’t focus on it, but somewhere when you have other responsibilities, that tends to kind of take a back seat, and over a period of time when you do it over and over again, and your mind is only running in one direction, then you can tend to lose that joy to come and practice.

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“For me, that’s always been the essence of playing cricket and something that I’ve always wanted for it to be alive within me. And I certainly feel that joy of purely coming here and hitting the ball again.” Asked if he feels younger and brighter not being the captain, Kohli said, “When you take a decision like this, a lot of people go, ‘One should look at things from a point of responsibility and you have to take responsibility.’ “People don’t understand that if you as a player cannot be the best version of yourself on the field, then that responsibility for me personally as a player means nothing,” he said.

Faf, an able captain

A three-time IPL winner under MS Dhoni at Chennai Super Kings, du Plessis was picked by RCB for Rs 7 crore after an intense bidding war.

Terming the 37-year-old de Plessis as an able captain, Kohli said he’s ready to help out the South African in whatever way he wants.

“I’ve been in touch with Faf for a long period of time now. We’ve actually connected and got along really well. He’s a very able captain, someone that I have a lot of respect for.

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“As an opposition captain, I always admired the way he (Du Plessis) went about things and the in the way he got his team to rally around him. That I think is the most important thing for any skipper.” Kohli said de Plessis was at ease with everyone in the RCB squad and the whole environment in general.

“People have a sense of respect for him,” Kohli said of Du Plessis.

“If he’s making plans or talking about stuff, people are saying, hold on, let’s really get into it, listen to it, and we got to make a plan around his vision, which I think is a great thing.”

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