Kohli relishing captaincy

The captaincy isn’t his for keeps -- Kohli has stepped in, temporarily, after Daniel Vettori aggrravated a knee injury -- but quite clearly, the right-hander is enjoying the challenge and the responsibility.

Having led Royal Challengers to a nine-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday, Kohli will lead the Red Brigade out on Saturday too, at the Chinnaswamy stadium, against Kolkata Knight Riders.

“It was a good experience,” Kohli said of his Jaipur stint. “It was really different from just being a player in the side. It was a big responsibility to captain a side of international players and really experienced guys. It was a good challenge and I really enjoyed it.

Everyone in the team helped me make my decisions and backed me all the way. It was a different and a very exciting experience for me.”

The former India under-19 captain acknowledged that leading a senior side was an entirely different cup of tea. “It was very different from leading the under-19 side because I had led that team for a while whereas this was the first game I was leading in between a tournament,” he pointed out. “But I was pretty confident I could handle the situation because I know the guys really well and we have a good understanding. I knew it wasn’t going to be a big problem to get the guys going in the field. Everyone knows what their roles are. I got good support from all the players in the field.”

Vettori will be unavailable for at least a couple of more games. “He’s gone back home to see his surgeon that he generally consults,” Kohli observed. “He will try to get back and be fit for the upcoming games. We will just have to wait and watch what happens with that.”

‘Unfortunate’

Vettori might join the team at some stage, while the Challengers will have to make do without Tillakaratne Dilshan for the rest of the season. “Obviously, it’s a loss for us and it’s unfortunate,” Kohli acknowledged.

“It’s been happening to us for the last two years as well. We have lost important players at important times due to injuries, it’s never a good thing for the team. But we have got reserves willing to do well and willing to go out there and make a play.

“They are really talented and thinking cricketers. We need to set a strong combination now and go with that combination throughout the tournament. If Dan comes back, nothing like it. If he doesn’t, then we need to form a different combination and be confident going into the game with that combination.”

Kohli sought to deflect pressure from his team by saying a top-two finish wasn’t highest on the Challengers’ agenda. “Our first aim was to get into the top four and we are on the verge of doing that,” he noted. “If we end up doing that, we won’t think too much about being in the top two because we don’t want to pressurise ourselves and lose momentum.

“It has been going well for us, we have been enjoying our cricket and we want to continue that way. If in doing that, we end up in the last two, that is an added advantage because you get two chances to get into the final. Which team wouldn’t want to do that?”

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