Indian skipper Virat Kohli is without doubt one of the best batsmen in the world. Kohli’s game and fitness have evolved by leaps and bounds since his ODI debut in 2008, and some credit for this goes to former India coach Gary Kirsten.
Speaking on The RK Show, the World Cup-winning coach revealed how he helped Kohli transform his game. Kirsten said he saw the "great abilities and talent" in Kohli, but he also felt that the right-handed batsman was not playing up to his potential.
"When I met Virat first up, he had great abilities and talent and he was a young guy. But I kind of knew straight away that he wasn't operating in the best version of himself. So, we had a number of discussions," the former coach said.
Recalling an ODI series against Sri Lanka, Kirsten said Kohli was batting beautifully at 30, but he tried to go over long-on for six and gave away his wicket.
The former South African player added that after that game, he suggested Kohli that if he wants to take his game to the next level, he needed to hit that ball down the ground for one to long-on.
"You know you can hit a lot of balls up the ground, but there's a lot of risks attached to that. I think he took that onboard a little bit and got a hundred in the next one in Kolkata," Kirsten said.
Kohli has 27 Test centuries and 43 ODI hundreds to his name. He is placed at the top in ICC ODI rankings, second in Tests, and tenth in T20Is.
Under Kirsten’s mentorship, India became the number one Test team in 2009 and went on to win the World Cup in 2011. After the Indian team, he coached his home team South Africa for two years and Kohli-led Royal Challengers Bangalore for two seasons.
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