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Khel Today Bureau 

New Delhi: In an exclusive interview with Star Sports, Indian cricketer Virat Kohli delved into the profound impact of South African coach Paddy Upton on his career and reflected on the emotional aftermath of his iconic performance against Pakistan at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup. Kohli acknowledged Upton’s unique insight as a former cricketer turned sports psychologist, highlighting the invaluable perspective he brought to navigating the challenges of a long and illustrious career. Additionally, Kohli shared the overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy he experienced after the match, as he received heartfelt messages from fans of various age groups, emphasizing the profound connection between his on-field achievements and the collective happiness of millions of Indians during the festive occasion of Diwali.

Speaking exclusively to Star Sports, Virat Kohli spoke on the influence that South African coach Paddy Upton has had on his career and the aftermath of his legendary performance against Pakistan at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, he said “What I went through, what is the cycle of having a long career, the ups and downs because he understood from a cricketing perspective (Paddy Upton); he’s played cricket himself. And after that becoming a sports psychologist is a different kind of a space. If you haven’t played and you are explaining struggles and challenges, then it’s different. The one who has played knows the margins of the game, the inches and the centimeters of a runout or a catch being taken, a great short hit, but it went to the fielder if it was a foot away, something else. So I had a lot of conversations with him, and I really appreciated him in that moment because he constantly kept me in check with my checkpoints of being present. Keep doing things that you did when you were playing good cricket. Was it different today, or was it the same? What did you feel after the failure? What you felt? If you’re feeling exactly the same way, it’s all good. Is it changing the way you look at things? This, that, and I thanked him quite dearly because he gave me that perspective and that boost again, you know, to figure things out, to find solutions when you’re under pressure, which is going back into the present moment. After that, I saw Ravi Bhai and he hugged me, and I was totally into it as it was that big a hug. And I know he was also emotional on that night. Because throughout that period that I was going through whatever, he saw it from the closest quarter, from a cricketing point of view, I had a lot of conversations with him too. So he knew what was going on. And obviously the night in itself, he also would’ve felt, a lot of emotions himself. So yeah, he just, he just said, I’m so happy for you and well done.”

Speaking exclusively to Star Sports, Virat Kohli spoke on how special the knock was against Pakistan at the T20 World Cup last year, emphasizing on the joy and happiness he bought to millions of Indians, he said “I feel blessed. I feel very, very blessed. I don’t know what I have done to be here. But all I feel is gratitude and I feel very blessed. After this match, the messages I received, those made me very emotional. Whatever happened on the ground happened, you played. To a certain extent, you try to figure out the problems. But the ones who do not have any control over these things but they still have the equal amount of nervousness, anticipation, and for them to have this experience is more intense you know. Those feelings are very intense and special. So the messages I received that day, one constant thing that people kept telling me is that you don’t know what you’ve done. And I couldn’t understand it because I saw what the stadium atmosphere was like, but I didn’t see what the mood in the nation was. The next day it was Diwali but that also kicked in late after the game. So when I spoke to Anushka as well, the next day, she said the same thing. Everyone said you don’t know how much happiness you’ve given to everyone. Everyone’s just going crazy on Diwali and people are just so happy. Like everyone just said the same thing, like we got to experience so much happiness at the same time on a festival that’s so dear to everyone. It’s that combination that is very, very rare. You know, that comes by and for that, I felt so much gratitude. From 20 year olds to 55, 60 year olds sending me messages of the same emotion was something that I can never forget in my life. Never ever.”

Catch all the LIVE action from the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 –India vs Netherlands, November 12th  2023, from 12:30 pm onwards, and Part 2 of ‘Believe: The Diwali Miracle’ ft. Virat Kohli (post game) Exclusively on the Star Sports Network and Disney+ Hotstar. 


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