Football may be the beautiful game and cricketers too are addicted to it but India have reined in their passion, seeing some ‘ball sense’ in it.
Many international teams play a round of football to warm up, and India too have done that for years. Football was skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s first love and the intensity was always there to see when the players came for practice sessions.
However, Virat Kohli’s Test team now plays a tapered down version, sticking to a regimen of foot volley, kicking the football over two rows of chairs first bounce.
Although the love for football hasn’t diminished among the India players, Virat Kohli said prudence comes ahead of passion for the game as players can’t afford to get injured.
- Virat Kohli has scored over 600 runs in the series so far
- Virat Kohli has gone past 1000 runs in Tests
- India registered their first series win over England after eight years
“Football used to be played even before I came into the team. In between, we banned it because of a couple of injuries, twisted ankles,” he told a news conference on Thursday, ahead of the final Test against England.
“We said we won’t play high-intensity proper football, but only a modified version, foot-volley. Those who play cricket like racquet sports more. It helps you gain ball sense. We like to play badminton, tennis. That is also the case in football.
“It is a natural game, from a young age you love to kick a ball so it becomes a craze. It produces excitement. It is good for endurance but high risk too as we won’t have that much of an idea to control and play.”
The love for football in the Indian squad runs off the field too as they come together to play a Fifa game.
It is not just football that has given players grief ahead of matches. Yuvraj Singh suffered a serious knee injury while playing a game of kho-kho at Mohali during the 2005 ICC Champions Trophy.
Keeping the game contact-free also helps avoid the kind of bust-up, which happened between Pakistan’s Wahab Riaz and Yasir Shah ahead of the Brisbane day-night Test against Australia, which started on Thursday.