Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Though several fans and experts have put a question mark over star batsman Virat Kohli’s place in the Indian squad, chairman of BCCI selectors Ajit Agarkar has been effusive for his praise for the former India captain.

According to Agarkar, the fitness blueprint designed by Virat Kohli has had a ripple effect on the whole Indian cricketing ecosystem.

“Kohli might be 35 years old but he remains second to none when it comes to performing the most difficult fitness drills. You look at guys like Virat, he is one of those guys who set the benchmark. 10-15 years into his career, he has only got fitter, you can see the results. If someone like him sets an example and puts forward certain things that you need or certain fitness levels that you need, gradually it progresses across the ecosystem,” said Agarkar during an interaction.

“Gradually it has progressed to the younger generation. The one difference you have seen over the last 15-20 years or so is the fitness levels of players,” the former India pacer added.

Meanwhile, Agarkar has termed former India great MS Dhoni a pure instinct man of a sport that had embraced the use of data and insight long ago.

As per the former pace bowling all-rounder, Dhoni’s instincts have seen him win five coveted IPL titles, and though he has relinquished the position of skipper at Chennai Super Kings CSK), his presence on the field is enough to infuse loads of confidence in his side. Agarkar feels that artificial intelligence cannot be a substitute to someone like Dhoni whose captaincy instincts are incredible.

“The amount of data that is available is incredible. You can plan a whole innings and I think everybody does it now, but it doesn’t mean it will work all the time. You need a captain on the ground because not everything that you have planned is going to go your way,” said Agarkar.

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“On a particular day it might, but most days it won’t. And that’s where you need human instinct. That’s why you call MS Dhoni a great captain because he had a feel for the game. He knew what was happening and how the game was changing,” he added.