The turn of the decade has seen a welcome change in the Indian cricket. Unlike most of their competitors, the Indian setup rarely gave much importance to fitness. Not surprisingly, India were not considered a top fielding side despite having a plethora of world class players.
However, things have changed in the last few years. The current team is arguably the fittest side in the world and the effect can be seen on the field. While most players of other countries are having a tough time in playing all the three formats, most of the Indian players are constantly playing across formats. And senior batsman Suresh Raina has credited India skipper Virat Kohli for the same.
Kohli’s transformation as one of the best batsmen in the world right now is as amazing as his remarkable improvement in fitness. Although athletic from his early days, the current India skipper arrived at the international stage with a chubby face but has now transformed into probably the fittest cricketer in the world.
The 29-year old has made fitness a top priority for selection in the national side and has also received backing from the BCCI. Passing the Yo Yo Test has now become mandatory to get into the Indian team. The fact that big players like Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were not considered for selection after failing the Yo Yo Test pretty much proves how much importance is given to fitness nowadays.
“It (fitness) is very important these days. I remember… long time back, around 10-12 years ago, I underwent a knee operation. There weren’t too many facilities back then and it took me 8-9 months to regroup. However, there is a great setup in place. All thanks to Virat,” said Raina.
Raina further said how Kohli has made it clear that each and every player needs to field well.
“He (Kohli) has made a system wherein a player has to field well apart from his primary task of batting or bowling. This duty was earlier performed by Yuvi paa (Yuvraj Singh), Kaif bhai (Mohammad Kaif) and me. But now all the 11 players have to be on their toes because the level of the game has increase and you have to make a difference, always. So, that’s how it has become a system,” he said.
Raina went on to speak on the benefits of maintaining a good fitness.
“It is in your blood now… what you eat, how much sleep you need and most importantly, how do you feel mentally. And personally, I feel, the more you train, the more you become calm, patient. So, fitness is an important mantra of life,” he opined.