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Shirin Sadikot in Mumbai 31 March 2012 - 05:05pm IST

Matching Gayle is impossible: Virat

RCB star hopes to be a calm and patient leader like Dravid

Virat Kohli is a man of contrasts. At 23, he’s aggressive, proud and flamboyant. But his maturity, talent and determination belie his age. Those who see him as the future captain of India are also wary of his highly inflammable temperament. Those who celebrate him as the most radiant star of India’s batting future, are worried he might lose focus under a harsh spotlight.

Virat represents the quintessential youth of India. He enjoys life but knows where his priorities lie. iplt20.com caught up with the Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman ahead of IPL 2012. His words oozed maturity and confidence that have come with the tons of runs he has scored in the last two years.

Excerpts from his interview...

Given the kind of form you’re in, you must be itching to get back on the cricket field.

Yes, I’m really looking forward to batting again for RCB. IPL has always been a fun time for the players to enjoy some exciting T20 cricket.

Being a constant in the RCB team since season one, how would you compare the current squad with the past ones?

Honestly, I think we had the best squad in 2009. With the quality of players we had then – the likes of Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Ross Taylor, Jacques Kallis, Kevin Pietersen, Mark Boucher, Dale Steyn – it was a really strong side. Having said that, even now we have some big names, like AB de Villiers, Zaheer Khan, Chris Gayle and Daniel Vettori. What makes the current team even stronger is that we gel really well as a team.

As someone who is touted as the future captain, which leadership quality would you imbibe from each of your RCB captains so far?

From Rahul Dravid, I’d want to imbibe his patience. He’s very calm and patient under the most pressure-filled situations. If your side is losing, as a captain it’s not easy to control your emotions. But Rahul bhai does it so wonderfully well.

I want Anil Kumble’s competitiveness and the never-say-die attitude. He not only motivates his team but also sets an example for everyone to follow by putting in his 100 per cent effort in the field.

Vettori’s composure is tremendous. The way he backs his bowlers in crunch times is especially amazing. I’d like to learn that from him.

In the last season when you led the team in a few matches, at any time did you feel nervous about having to captain some big international stars?

I was a bit nervous in the beginning. But once I took the field and started to think as a captain, I was fine. I was very well-supported by everyone in the team in terms of what I planned and what fields I wanted to set. That made me pretty relaxed. It was a fun experience for me.

Who’s the hardest hitter of the cricket ball in the world?

Chris Gayle.

You batted with him quite a lot last year. What is the most difficult and the easiest thing about batting with Gayle? 

The most difficult thing is to keep yourself safe! On a serious note, batting with someone like Gayle can be very intimidating. When you see him batting like that at the other end, you might get bogged down with the pressure of coping with his strike-rate. It also works the other way. You don’t need to worry about the scoring rate because he’s doing all the hitting at the other end. You only have to ensure the wickets are intact.

Does batting with him affect your batting?

No, it doesn’t. Both of us understand our respective roles very well. If one guy is playing the shots, the other just has to drop anchor and play the supporting role. I understand that it’s better to play to your own strengths rather than emulating someone like Chris because matching him is almost impossible. Only he can bat like that.

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