There's been plenty of talk about managing workload of India's cricketers during the Indian Premier League due to its proximity to the World Cup, but Virat Kohli stressed there was no cap on the number of matches for the players during the tournament. The India and RCB skipper instead put the onus on the individuals, saying they would be the best judges of their fitness.
"You cannot put a tab on anything," Kohli said. "If I'm able to play 10, 12 or 15 games, it doesn't necessarily mean that the other guy can only play that many. My body might demand I play a certain number of games and I need to be smart about that and rest. Someone else's body might be more capable than mine or less, that is a very individual thing. And everyone wants to play the World Cup, so people will be smart about it because you don't want to miss out on such a big event.
"From a responsibility point of view, all the Indian players will have the responsibility during the IPL to keep a watch on their fitness and their workloads. And to continue the frame of mind we have created in the Indian team - strive towards excellence and improve every day. Each player will take this tournament as an opportunity to go to the World Cup in a good frame of mind."
Speaking about the upcoming IPL season, Kohli stressed on the importance of creating a culture in the RCB side. Bangalore are often known for their heavyweight players, led by Kohli himself, but have never won the tournament.
"The failure lies where decisions aren't made properly," he said. If I sit here and say our luck was bad, that won't be right. You make your own luck, and if you make poor decisions and the other team makes good ones, you will lose. When we played big matches too, our decision-making wasn't right.
"What we've spoken about this year is to lay down a culture, which is the most important thing for any team. One thing that remains an essence for any team is striving for excellence and being committed to what you want to achieve. That takes commitment on a daily basis, and that is something I'm looking forward to this season. We will require absolute professionalism from all our players. We'll give responsibility to the players to handle themselves on the field, off the field, and take good decisions, be responsible about their life and the sport as well.
"We all are here taking care of that culture for now. We're not going to be here after a few years, none of us can be here forever. But RCB will remain for a long, long time and the next lot of players that come in should feel that culture, embrace it and be proud of being part of this franchise. To me it has been a most special experience. I don't see myself leaving or playing for any other franchise. That's purely because of that connect. We're going to play this season for that connect."
One of the reasons for Bangalore's failures over the last few years has been their dependency on Kohli and AB de Villiers, apart from the weakness in the bowling. They've taken steps towards correcting that by buying Shimron Hetmyer, Marcus Stoinis and Heinrich Klaasen in the auction. Kohli said they got the best options to suit their needs, but said it would be tough to predict how the season would go.
"When you choose players you obviously want to choose the strongest players that are in front of you and what your team requires the most," he said. I think from that point of view we've been spot on doing that. But you can never predict how a season is going to go. In a couple of finals that we reached, we felt that maybe we don't have the right balance, but suddenly your players get into a zone where they're unstoppable and then you just back that team throughout the season," said Kohli.
"The thing that stands out for me this season is that against all the beliefs and views that go around, the thing that we have been able to do in the last ten years is just create a fan base which is impossible to create if you are striving for things that are not real. That has happened purely because of the spirit with which we played our cricket.
"Even after so many years, having reached three finals and three semifinals and not having that trophy in our hand, we never felt like there was a lack of enthusiasm before starting a season. It can only happen when you have such a strong fan base and a stadium that you look forward to coming to and playing in.
"We spoke about creating a culture, and expecting people to follow it is going to be key. Every team is strong in the IPL, you have world-class players playing all over. It's the team that wants it the most, and wants it more badly that goes through. That is something we'll look forward to bringing out in the players this season and everyone is really driven about that. I can guarantee you there will be no lack of commitment or pride of playing for RCB this season."