Early Beginnings: Watch an 18-Yr-Old Virat Kohli’s First Interview
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Video Courtesy: Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan
The Virat Kohli we see today leads the Indian cricket team in all formats, breaks records with the bat, and inspires generations of young cricketers to come in the country.
But before all this, before he became an under-19 World Cup-winning captain, before he carried Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulders post India’s 2011 World Cup triumph, and before he made his senior international debut, the Delhi cricketer gave his first on-camera interview, at the age of 18.
Along with his Ranji Trophy teammate Puneet Bisht, the interview featured Kohli speaking ahead of India’s 2007 World Cup campaign in West Indies. Here’s a transcript of the interview.
Reporter: Do you think the Indian team is balanced, if we look at the batting and bowling?
Kohli: The Indian team is balanced. They’ve picked a team keeping both bowling and batting in mind. What will matter is how they gel-up on the field, and how they perform as a unit.
Too caught up to read? Listen to the interview instead.
Reporter: Virat I’d like to ask you... Virender Sehwag last scored a century on 2 April 2005. That’s about two years ago. In that case, do you think taking him for a big tournament like the World Cup makes sense? They’re taking a player like Uthappa, they have two openers, they have Ganguly and Tendulkar. All four players who can open. In that case, then is it right to take Sehwag as well?
Kohli: I think it’s okay on Dravid’s part. World Cup is a big tournament where you need experience, and can’t count on youth as much. According to me, it’s the right decision because Sehwag has a lot of experience and has scored a lot of runs for India.
Reporter: Why do you think India doesn’t have the power to field five bowlers? We always see that India plays an extra batsman. On paper, we see that India has batsman who can destroy the bowling attack of any other country. Despite that, India field one extra batsman. What do you think the reason for that is?
Kohli: If you’ve seen in the past, India has not been able to defend well. Even if they field five bowlers, they don’t have the capability to defend a big score. India’s batting is their strength, and I think they can chase any score.
Reporter: India is still not able to produce all-rounders. Pathan was there, but he wasn’t able to make a mark the way all-rounders like Jacques Kallis have. Pathan is still struggling. Sometimes he bowls well but doesn’t bat well. Other times he bats well, but doesn’t bowl well. Do you think if India has more all-rounders or if players in the team including Tendulkar, Sehwag or Sourav Ganguly could make a big difference by producing an all-round performance.
Virat Kohli: If you see, Sachin, Sehwag and Yuvraj can all bowl 5-6 overs in every match. So, if they concentrate on their bowling, they could become good all-rounders.
Reporter: Dilip Vengsarkar said that it was on Dravid’s insistence that Sehwag was picked for the World Cup team. Once the team has left, do you think such a statement by the chief selector could have an effect on the team’s or Sehwag’s morale?
Kohli: Yes, such a thing should not have been disclosed on TV. This will affect Sehwag’s morale because his performance was anyway a bit down and after this statement was put out, his confidence could have become lower.
Reporter: Just when the team was supposed to leave and Pathan had been named in the squad, Vengsarkar said that if Pathan doesn’t perform well in a certain match, then he won’t go to West Indies. Don’t you think such a thing has an impact on the player?
Kohli: It does have an impact because once your name has been announced, the cricketer has to make up his mindset. And if the very next moment you’re told that your spot isn’t sure, then it makes a lot of impact.
Reporter: Some way or the other it will make a difference if in your free time, instead of concentrating on the game you are modelling, doing ads, earning money. Each player is associated with upto 30 brands. That must have an impact on their game.
Kohli: I don’t think it affects the game. If you’re not performing, then these things come up. But if you keep winning, no one’s going to talk about the endorsements.
Reporter: Maybe because you’re both players you don’t want to admit this makes a difference. These days, the media has become a very big power. The media also puts a lot of pressure. In a single day, it makes you a hero. In a single day, if Dhoni smashes some fours or sixes then they praise him and the very next day they criticise him. Do you think the media puts too much pressure on the media or do you think the players are capable enough to deal with this, and it makes no difference to them.
Kohli: According to me, there’s a lot of pressure from the media, no matter how big the player is. A lot of pressure was even put on Sachin by the media. I think no matter how big a player is, if the media puts a lot of pressure, then it impacts a player’s psyche.
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