Mumbai: MS Dhoni and AB de Villiers are the two batters Virat Kohli loves batting with the most, the Indian captain said on Thursday during a social media interaction with former England batsman Kevin Pietersen.
"I enjoy batting with those who can run fast with me. So it has to be MS when we play for India together and AB when we play in the IPL for RCB. We don't even talk while we are batting," Kohli said during an Instagram live hosted by Pietersen.
The Team India skipper further revealed the real story about his nickname ‘chiku' and how it was popularised by veteran wicketkeeper-batsman MS Dhoni who shouted it many times during a cricket game from behind the stumps.
"MS (Dhoni) has sort of made my nickname famous from behind the stumps. In the stumps' mic, people pick up," said Kohli.
The cricketer stated that it was his first-class cricket coach who nicknamed him ‘chiku'.
"I got this nickname from a coach in the Ranji Trophy. I used to have big cheeks then. In 2007, I thought I was losing hair. I got my hair cropped and my cheeks and ears stood out. I got the name from a cartoon character. The rabbit in the comic book Champak," he added.
Prior to the interview, Pietersen had also shared a picture of Kohli's younger days and asked him about the photo.
The 31-year-old laughed and said: "I don't recognise him anymore. We did have a lot of fun then. 2009 and 2010 you (Pietersen) were with us and we really hit off from day 1. And we had a gun team with Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis."
Kohli also shed light on him turning vegan, saying it is the best decision he has made in his life.
"In 2018, I got a cervical spine issue. I could barely feel my finger and I could not sleep the body was acidic, my stomach started pulling calcium from my bones and my bones got weaker."
"I cut down uric acid from my body and I left meat. That is the best decision I have made in my life. I have never felt better waking up. I can play 3 games a week and can recover within a day after a Test match and go on another," he said.
The cricketer when asked about red-ball cricket further vouched for the same as the No. 1 format of the game. Kohli also has spoken sharply against four-day Tests.
"Test cricket, Test cricket, Test cricket, Test cricket, Test cricket, I have said it five times," Kohli said when Pietersen asked him to choose his favourite format.
"For me, it is the representation of life. You got to keep going when u don't score runs, you go back in your hotel room and again get ready the next day. It is life. It has made me a better person," added the 31-year old, rated as the best modern-day batsman across all three formats.
Asked about the fatigue factor of modern-day cricketers playing all three formats and leagues like the Indian Premier League (IPL), Kohli said he does balance it with breaks in between a season and will assess whether to play only one or two formats after the 50-over World Cup in 2023.
"I have been taking breaks. Last 2-3 seasons I have been doing too much. I don't want to miss out on Test cricket. I have been playing three formats for 9 years now with IPL. Then captaincy for 6 years. It's not easy. I will give it all for next 2-3 years and then will see what format to play and all after next World Cup."
Kohli also spoke about the lowest point in his career being the 2014 England tour where he failed miserably with the bat.
"England tour in 2014 was the lowest point in my career. I felt like as a batsman you know you will get out. I still had to get out of bed and get dressed knowing I would fail. It demolished me and I promised I will never allow myself to think like that. I was too focused on doing well from personal point of view."
A lot is said about Kohli's on-field aggression crossing the line at times, but the Indian captain asserted that he does not feel the need to behave differently as he is the captain and he can never play without having that fire in his belly.
During India's recent tour to New Zealand, the cricketer had a fiery exchange with a journalist who asked him to tone down his aggression following his team's crushing defeat in the second and final Test against New Zealand at the Hagley Oval. India lost the Test series 0-2.
On the second day of the Test match, Kohli was seen giving angry send-offs to Kiwi batters and animatedly celebrating the fall of wickets during the first two sessions. On one particular instance, Kohli was even seen using an expletive towards the crowd.
"There is bit of crazy up here as well (in his head). When I played under MS (Dhoni) I was in his ear every moment. I wanted to be at the right place at the right time. I don't think I need to behave differently because I am a captain. I can't play any other way. I made a promise, the day I stop feeling like that I will stop," he said.
"For me the most important thing is how can I contribute to help team win. That mindset should never change. Lot of things people say to stir things up in India, but you have to block the noise and make most of the opportunity in front of you," added Kohli.
Asked about India's problems on away soil, the cricketer made light of the matter despite their recent travails in red ball cricket, saying now conditions feel the same everywhere with so much cricket and its more about the mindset.
"Before we used to come in every 3-4 years to England. In India, you guys come every year for IPL. But now with so much tour and cricket, we don't feel we are playing in alien conditions. Anyone can beat anyone anywhere. We feel the same in terms of conditions. Now its all about fatigue and mindset."
Locked at home due to the 21-day lockdown to fight the coronavirus pandemic, Kohli said this is the most amount of time he has spent with actress wife Anushka Sharma.
"This is the longest we have spent together since we have been together. We have never been in one place for this long."
The pair also went down memory lane to talk about their days playing together for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in 2009 and 2010.
"Right from 2009-10 we had amazing fun at RCB. We hit off well from Day 1. You came in as the big KP a star. We had a gun team with Kallis, Boucher, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid," Kohli said.
RCB have reached three finals but have never won an IPL following a constant inability to deliver the goods under pressure. Kohli, as captain of the side, said he feels they deserved a title but added he is not obsessed to win one with the franchise.
"We have reached three finals but haven't won. We deserve to win a title. At RCB, we get talked about so much as we had stars. The more you think (about winning the IPL), the more it keeps running away from you. There have been added pressure lately but we need to just enjoy and not take pressure."
Kohli termed his century against KXIP in IPL 2016, as the innings in which he enjoyed the most. The cricketer also picked Cristiano Ronaldo over Lionel Messi, further stating that he would never shave as he did not look great without a beard.
When asked about his best cricketing memory, Kohli named the ICC 2011 WC triumph. The cricketer also urged people to follow the guidelines with a united approach, in order to fight against the coronavirus.
Yuzvendra Chahal and Rishabh Pant were having their own banter in the comments section.
Wicketkeeper Pant asked if he could join the conversation in the comment section. When both Pietersen and Kohli did not seem to have taken notice of it, Chahal commented, "Hi Rishab how are u bro our unique comment ignored by 2 legends so we both talk to each other (sic.)"
The banter continued after that with Pant saying, "Virat sir hie toh bol (sic.)" Chahal then replied, "Pant le bhai hi hi and hi." Pant continued to seek Kohli and Pietersen's attention though, asking them to take his name.
Chahal then commented on the glass that Pietersen was holding, "Oh bhai beer glass mein water Kp sir you are a legend (sic.)"