India’s cricket great Virat Kohli not ready to ease leadership workload

India’s captain Virat Kohli, left, celebrate their win during the fourth Twenty20 international cricket match between New Zealand and India at Sky Stadium in Wellington on January 31, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 19 February 2020

India’s cricket great Virat Kohli not ready to ease leadership workload

  • ‘It’s been about eight years now that I’ve been playing almost 300 days a year’
  • ‘The team wants a lot of my contribution in the next two or three years, so that we can ease into another transition’

WELLINGTON: Virat Kohli admitted Wednesday that captaining India in all three cricketing formats was grueling but insisted he was not yet ready to ease his leadership burden.
Speaking ahead of the opening Test against New Zealand in Wellington on Friday, Kohli, 31, said stepping back was on his mind, but not for a few years.
“It’s not a conversation to hide away from,” he told reporters. “It’s been about eight years now that I’ve been playing almost 300 days a year.
“With the traveling, practice sessions and the intensity being right up there all the time, it does take a toll on you.”
Asked about fellow players who had dropped one or more forms of the game in order to extend their careers, Kohli replied: “I’m not in that space at the moment.”
“Periodic breaks for me seem to work pretty OK,” he added.
“At a time when the body doesn’t respond as well, maybe at around 34, 35, you might have a different conversation, but for the next two or three years I have no issues.”
Kohli, who took over the Test captaincy in late 2014, said he wanted to ensure the Indian team was in a good place when he finally relaxed his grip on the reins.
“The team wants a lot of my contribution in the next two or three years, so that we can ease into another transition, which is what we faced about five or six years ago,” he said.
“The mindset is obviously on the larger picture and from that point of view, I am preparing myself for a rigorous three years.”
Kohli backed rookie opening batsmen Mayank Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw to shine at Wellington’s Basin Reserve, where India have not won a Test since 1968.
“These guys have no baggage, they’re not desperate in any way to perform here,” he said.
“They play with a fearlessness that can motivate the whole team and give us the kind of starts we want.”
Kohli expected the notorious Wellington wind to play a role in the match, saying it had to be carefully considered when weighing up bowling options.
“Wind in this stadium more than any other in the world plays a massive, massive role,” he said.


Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal says 10 players infected with COVID-19, requests match postponement

Updated 20 September 2020

Saudi Arabia's Al-Hilal says 10 players infected with COVID-19, requests match postponement

  • Al-Hilal contacted AFC to request postponing Sunday's match against Shahr Khodro

RIYADH: The Saudi Al-Hilal team has officially requested to postpone its scheduled match on Sunday against its Iranian counterpart Shahr Khodro at Al-Janoub Stadium in the Qatari capital, Doha, in the fifth round of group stage of the AFC Champions League football competition.
The club published a statement on its official Twitter account saying it had contacted the AFC to request to postpone its match against the Iranian team after 10 players contracted COVID-19.
The club said it had “caused a major crisis in the team, after the number of players infected with the virus has now reached 15,” according to the statement.
Al-Hilal was looking to qualify for the next round, as they lead the group with 10 points from four matches, compared to seven points for Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor Tashkent and six for the UAE’s Shabab Al-Ahli Club club. Shahr Khodro are still without points.
Al-Hilal, who has suffered absences from many players due to coronavirus, needs to obtain only one point in order to qualify for the Round 16, pending the AFC’s response to the Saudi team’s request.