Kapil Dev backs Virat Kohli’s fitness philosophy for Indian cricket team | india-vs-new-zealand-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Kapil Dev backs Virat Kohli’s fitness philosophy for Indian cricket team

Former India captain Kapil Dev has backed current skipper Virat Kohli on his new fitness regime for the Indian cricket team

india vs new zealand 2017 Updated: Nov 01, 2017 23:27 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
Skipper Virat Kohli has helped reform the fitness regime of the Indian cricket team.
Skipper Virat Kohli has helped reform the fitness regime of the Indian cricket team.(IDI via Getty Images)

Kapil Dev was admired as much for his athleticism as his swing bowling, but India’s World Cup-winning captain can appreciate the balance required between skill and fitness. (IND v NZ 1st T20I updates | scorecard)

Even after his India career ended in 1994, it was the ability to score runs and take wickets that mattered. However, Virat Kohli has set a new template for selection to the national team – fitness.

Yo-yo test is the mantra for India players, to prove they are willing to sweat it out for being considered the most athletic side in the world. Those who can’t meet the levels required are not being selected to the national team.

Despite the debate, Kapil Dev whole-heartedly backs Virat Kohli’s philosophy, as he said at the sidelines of a promotional event for a cricket tournament being organised by Wonder Cement on Wednesday.

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Captain’s choice

“Every captain brings his ideas. This captain believes fitness is very, very important. And we should respect that. You may be very talented, but if you can’t take catches or save those extra runs the team requires, then there is no point.

“It is not that nobody can do the Yo-Yo test. But if the captain has made that the basis, I respect that because I was very particular about fitness. It will be unfair if I don’t support that.”

But India’s World Cup-winning skipper acknowledges cricket needs the skill-fitness balance.

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“The balance is decided by the team management. Sometimes in cricket you don’t have to be (super) fit, but you can be great. Let’s say Anil Kumble, I don’t think he could have been (clearing the Yo-Yo test) because he was not a great athlete. But he was one of the greatest bowlers India has produced. Or Sourav Ganguly for that matter, he was not one of the best athletes.

“But still the message goes to the kids, to everybody, that you have to be fit; it is not only runs and wickets, a bit of fitness has to be there, and (then) what level of fitness is required. I support Virat in that aspect. Maybe 30 years back, half of the players will not fit in the team.”

Finger spin vs wrist spin

Kapil felt India picking wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav for limited-overs cricket reflected the depth in spin bowling in the country.

“If wrist spinners have become much more effective, it only shows they are far, far better. I was surprised to see R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja not playing; despite being the No 1 bowler in the world (Ashwin) still didn’t get a chance. That is the strength of Indian bowling.”

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Cricket will make a major departure from tradition this month when South Africa host a four-day Test against Zimbabwe. The International Cricket Council (ICC) have given the go-ahead as a one-off, but Kapil Dev criticised the move.

“I don’t agree with that (four-day Test). I agree with the new nations coming up, they can play four-day Tests. Not the top teams, because then you want to have Test match for three days, 100-overs each. The basic (character) should not change.”