New Delhi, April 2: India captain Virat Kohli on Thursday said he became a better person by playing Test cricket, calling the format a representation of life where one doesn't have the option of quitting when the going gets tough.
Speaking to former England batsman and IPL teammate Kevin Pietersen during an instagram live, Kohli touched upon his passion for Test cricket, the worst phase of his career, how he turned into a vegan and how much he is filled with gratitude for being able to live a comfortable life during a global crisis like COVID-19.
Asked which is his favourite format, the Indian skipper emphatically replied: "Test cricket, Test cricket, Test cricket, Test cricket and Test cricket. I have said it five times. Because it is the representation of life. Whether you get runs or not, you have to clap when others are batting. You have to go back to your room, get up and come the next day.
"You have to follow the routine whether you like it or not. It's like life where you don't have the option of not competing. Test cricket has made me a better person," said the world's premier batsman, who has 27 hundreds and 7240 runs in 86 games.
Pietersen, a superb Test batsman himself, lauded Kohli for trashing the idea of four-day Tests which the ICC has floated to pull in more crowds. "I was called for a debate and I told them that if Virat Kohli doesn't want four day Tests, it's not happening," the former England captain said as Kohli had a hearty laugh.
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Talking about becoming a better person, Kohli felt that he can count his blessings of having all the comforts in life at a time when the world is reeling under the havoc wreaked by novel coronavirus.
"I am grateful to God that I have a place to live at a time when people are struggling for jobs. You just want to sit back and reflect. You are filled with gratitude. We should never sit back and complain about what we don't have," he said.
His aggressive on-field demeanour has polarised opinions but the Indian skipper feels that for him, aggression is a form of enjoyment and then comes thinking about strategy.
"I don't think I need to behave myself just because I am the captain. I need to be able to enjoy and then comes strategy."
But there is one guy he will never sledge in his life and that is AB de Villiers, for the simple reason that there is just too much respect.
"IPL has done a lot in terms of respecting each other. I would never ever be able to do it (sledging) with AB. There is a friendship that lasts much longer than all these things."
In fact, asked to choose two batsmen he enjoys batting with most, De Villiers is one of them along with former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
"I enjoy batting with those who understand my running between the wickets. You have to understand my calls. I have enjoyed batting with MS and with AB, we don't even need to call as we look at each other and we know."
About turning vegetarian, Kohli spoke about how he developed a cervical spine problem during the 2018 tour of South Africa. "I had literally no feel in my little fingers. It was also realised that I had an acidic stomach and the calcium was being pulled from the bones. I stopped eating meat and I never felt better. I can now play two Test matches with little gap at 120 per cent intensity."
As he had said earlier, he would like to play all formats till 2023 and then take a call, he reiterated that the 2014 tour of England was the lowest point of his career when he felt that failure was inevitable.
"It was a phase where I felt that there was no chance of me getting any runs. I would get up and go to a match knowing that I will not get runs. To go through that feeling that you will fail demolished me.
"I promised never to let that happen to me again," he said with a message for all youngsters who want to be the next Virat Kohli.
The reason for the disaster in England was putting himself ahead of the team and being "obsessed about his own game and success" and not being able to shut out the voices who spoke about success in England being the ultimate Test of a cricketer.
"Don't be self centred," was his message to the youngsters.
A hero to millions, Kohli has his heroes too. One among them is Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who he likes more than Lionel Messi. "I love his work ethic and ability to deflect all the crap on the outside," he reasoned.