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Secret to Kohli’s longevity? ‘A lot of hard work and sacrifices,’ says Dravid

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The year 2023 may hold a lot of importance for Virat Kohli. It will mark 15 years of international cricket for him next month. There’s an ODI World Cup coming up which will provide Kohli a rare second chance to lift the trophy at home. It will bring up his 500th international appearance when Kohli takes the field on Thursday in the second Test against West Indies in Trinidad. Even though he doesn’t seem to be part of India’s T20I plans going ahead, he continues to be the driving force of the 50-overs and the Test teams.

Asked where he saw Kohli in the overall scheme of things currently, coach Rahul Dravid was nothing but complimentary of his senior batter’s work ethic and drive even after 110 Tests and 15 years of international cricket.

“He’s a real inspiration to so many players within this team without a doubt, to so many boys and girls in India,” Dravid said. “His numbers and stats speak for itself, his performances – it’s all there in the book. But I think for me what’s great to see first hand is the effort and work he puts behind the scenes when no one’s watching. That’s reflecting in the fact that he’s going to be playing 500 games.

“He’s still very strong, very fit, the energy and enthusiasm despite playing 500 games and being around here for 12-13 years now, it’s truly fantastic. That’s not come easy, that’s come because of a lot of hard work behind the scenes, lot of sacrifices that he has made through his career and he’s willing to continue to make. That’s something that is great for a coach, you can see a lot of young players will look to that and be inspired by that.

“You don’t have to say anything, just by the way you conduct yourself, the way you carry yourself, the way you go about practice and about your fitness, it’s an inspiration to a lot of players coming through the system. Hopefully they follow that and they are inspired like Virat to play so many games. Longevity comes with a lot of hard work, discipline, adaptability and he’s shown all of that. Long may it continue.”

Dravid first played with Kohli in the IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore in 2008. Then they became ODI colleagues a year later. On the tour of the Caribbean in 2011, they became Test colleagues when Kohli had a tough initiation into the longest format. The game where Kohli brought up his maiden Test century – in Adelaide in January 2012 – incidentally, would be Dravid’s last.

“It’s nice to see Virat’s journey,” Dravid said. “When I was playing, he was a youngster coming through. And then I was not involved in the team as such, I watched it from the outside with a lot of admiration for what he’s done and what he’s continued to achieve. And now to get to know him a bit over the last 18 months [since taking over as coach], interact with him, get to know him personally as well, it’s been good fun. I’ve really enjoyed it, I’ve learnt a lot from him. So in a lot of ways, I’ve really enjoyed it and hope he has as well.”

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