Kolkata, Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper Virat Kohli on Thursday said players have made peace with life in a bio-secure bubble as they have embraced the new normal which is allowing them to play cricket amid uncertain times owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kohli also said the fact that the upcoming edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) will bring smiles to many watching all the action from around the globe would motivate the players despite having to play in front of empty stands in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
The IPL 2020 starts Saturday with defending champions Mumbai Indians taking on Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in Abu Dhabi. RCB take on Sunrisers Hyderabad on September 21 in Dubai.
“We all have become more accepting of the situation around us. That would not have been the case when you have so many options of like I can go out for a coffee…do whatever I want at any time of the day. Acceptance is the biggest change that I have experienced,” Kohli said during a webinar on RCB paying tribute to ‘Covid Heroes’.
The webinar also had RCB chairman Sanjeev Churiwala, senior wicketkeeper batsman Parthiv Patel and Devdutt Padikkal.
“Even in this bio bubble, the first time we spoke was about being appreciative of the things that are in front of you. We have accepted that this is what we need to do.
“We are part of the bio bubble and these are the things we can afford to do. So I think all of us have become really relaxed in this environment now because of that acceptance. I haven’t seen people getting sad or upset here…everyone has had a smile on their faces,” Kohli said.
Kohli also said training in the UAE and playing a few practice games has helped adjusting to the feeling of playing in empty stadiums, but the larger cause of making people happy is what would push them.
“All of us have thought about playing in empty stadiums. Of course it’s going to be a strange feeling.
“But that feeling has changed a little bit till now after having gone through a lot of practice sessions and couple of practice games with the teams as well,” said Kohli who would look to lead the team to their first IPL title.
The 31-year-old said players have to realise why they started playing the game in the first place and what the bigger picture is.
“At the end of the day, you understand why you play the sport and you started playing for the love of it. Now you have a chance to represent the love when the whole world is watching and that will bring a lot of joy to people. All the external factors become irrelevant. Crowds are an amazing part of any sport but that is not what you play for eventually.
“Crowd is a part of your journey when they are watching you. We have an opportunity to bring joy to so many other people and so from that point of view I can only say that our intensity level or passion won’t drop because there are no crowds. There is a larger reason for why this is happening and we are going to stay true to that,” he said.
Kohli further said the players feel safe now in the bubble and that is due to the work put in by the management.
“We have started feeling very safe in this environment already – the bubble that has been created for us. That can only happen when people come from their own comfort zone and make sure you are safe.
“I am sure that’s across every team and the whole tournament in general. Just to make a tournament of this scale happen in these times…I am sure there are very difficult things that are being done on a daily basis which we don’t see.”