Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 18 September 2020

IPL

IPL 2020: Virat Kohli 'never felt so calm' as he prepares to make Royal Challengers Bangalore a force

Bangalore's best finish under Kohli was as runners-up in 2016 and the team slid to the bottom of the table last year

Virat Kohli says he has "never felt so calm" going into an Indian Premier League season as the Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper chases an elusive title in the Twenty20 tournament.

Bangalore's best finish under Kohli was as losing finalists in the 2016 edition, and finished bottom of the eight-team table last year.

Kohli says he expects a big turnaround from a team containing big names such as South Africa's explosive AB de Villiers and Australia's big-hitting white ball skipper Aaron Finch when the tournament gets under way in the UAE on September 19.

"I never felt so calm going into a season before," Kohli said during an interview posted on his side's YouTube channel on Monday.

"He [De Villiers] is coming from a very different space and he is enjoying his life and is very relaxed and fit as ever. I feel I am in a much better space, much more balanced, when it comes to environment of IPL.

"Aaron Finch is someone who has experience of playing international cricket."

With the tournament first postponed and then moved to the Emirates due to the rising cases of Covid-19 in India, Kohli believes his side will be disconnected "with things that have happened in the past and not taking that baggage, as we have done that way too many times.

"Just because we have a bunch of players that are so skilled ... people have had so much expectation," he admitted.

Bangalore also boast overseas talent including South African pace bowler Chris Morris and Australian wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Philippe.

"Morris brings in a lot of balance," said Kohli. "Some of the youngsters we have picked this time are quite exciting too like Josh Philippe, a very exciting player."

The IPL will be played across three venues – Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah – and Kohli feels that will lead to consistent playing conditions across the tournament.

"It [the usual home and away system in India] gets hectic, conditions change ... This time, it's more of a level playing field and everything would now boil down to skill level rather than home advantage," he said.

"We have unpacked all bags and stacked clothes in the wardrobe. We go, practise, live in our own bio-bubble ... It's a more settled and calm feeling."

Updated: September 8, 2020 02:19 PM

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