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IPL 2019: All Indian players will have responsibility to maintain fitness, says Virat Kohli

Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli, bowling coach Ashish Nehra and batting coach Gary Kirsten addressed the issue of workload management during the IPL tournament.

India captain Virat Kohli on Sunday denied claims that IPL franchises have been asked to manage the workload of Indian players, with the World Cup set to approach just a week after the tournament. Speaking at an event in Bengaluru, the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain said that no instructions have been issued to cap the number of matches a player could play during IPL.

“You cannot put a cap on anything. If I’m able to play 10, 12 or 15 games, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the other guy can only play that many. My body might demand I play a certain number of games and I need to be smart about that and rest. Someone else’s body might be more capable than mine or less, that is a very individual thing,” the 30-year-old was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo.

The right-handed batsman added that everyone desires to be part of the World Cup and will themselves take care of their fitness levels. “And everyone wants to play the World Cup, so people will be smart about it because you don’t want to miss out on such a big event,” the right-handed batsman said.

Kohli further emphasised that the responsibility for managing workloads lay with the players themselves. “From a responsibility point of view, all the Indian players will have the responsibility during the IPL to keep a watch on their fitness and their workloads. And to continue the frame of mind we have created in the Indian team – strive towards excellence and improve every day. Each player will take this tournament as an opportunity to go to the World Cup in a good frame of mind.”

RCB bowling coach Ashish Nehra further said that playing IPL before the World Cup would help the players. “If somebody tells Virat Kohli that you are not playing this IPL, come fresh for the World Cup, I don’t think it’s the right way. If he’s only practising, that practice is different [from match play]. The IPL is a pressure tournament, it is as good as international cricket, that’s why everybody wants to play. So you are going to the World Cup through that pressure. If I’m a bowler, I keep bowling yorkers or good-length balls, it’s the same thing I have to do in the World Cup,” he said.

He added: “There’s a three-week gap between the IPL final and India’s first game [at the World Cup]. If you’re not injured, three weeks is enough time. If someone tells me, ‘You bowl in the IPL final today and then for the next three weeks you don’t bowl, and then bowl straightaway against South Africa’ – I would not like to do that. Active rest is very important, not just for fast bowlers but for everyone.”

RCB batting coach Gary Kirsten agreed with Nehra’s point of view and said: “And Ashish has made a good point: if you get yourself match-ready during the IPL, that’s going to hold you in really good stead during the World Cup. I think it’s an advantage to the Indian players, actually. Because the IPL is such a pressurised tournament, it’s great preparation for the World Cup.”

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