New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson has said that Virat Kohli's talent was evident at the under-19 level, and that it was just a matter of time before he made it big at the senior level. He also reflected on the cordial relations between the duo right from their under-19 days.
Williamson expressed his views in a freewheeling chat with Dinesh Karthik and Jatin Sapru on the Star Sports show Cricket Connected. Karthik also put forth his thoughts on the transformation he has seen in Virat Kohli from his under-19 days to the present day.
The soft-spoken Williamson talked very highly about Virat Kohli when asked about the latter's journey from the under-19 level, a career the former has watched closely, having played against each other from that stage.
"You could see that it was just a matter of time before he would be making some strong inroads into the full international scene. You know at the moment, leading the way in cricket and setting the standards as a batter and breaking all these records."
He attributed Virat Kohli's success to his maturity and the innate drive to improve every day and take the team forward. The Kiwi captain also mentioned that the two of them are fortunate to have played against each other from a young age.
"You know all of that probably has to come down to his maturity and ability to make very good decisions. Not only is he gifted with his natural ability but you marry that up with this constant drive and hunger to improve and just be better day in, day out. We are fortunate to play against each other, its being great for me from a young age and follow his progress as well."
Dinesh Karthik, who had played the under-19 World Cup in 2004, much before Virat Kohli, also collaborated Williamson's thoughts. He added the Indian captain's emphasis on fitness, complimented with his existing skills and competitiveness, have taken him to such towering heights.
"I think the biggest change has been his attitude towards the sport. He always worked on his skill, he was obviously a very fierce competitor, those things stayed in him. But the fact that he brought fitness into his game and took it to such a level that the fitter he got, the better he got as a player in terms of his skillset, his technical mindset, his tactical ideas."
The wicketkeeper-batsman iterated that he had been closely observing Virat Kohli's transformation from the latter's under-19 days. He acknowledged Virat Kohli's ability to push the extra mile when the others would be mentally and physically exhausted.
"I think he is one of the few guys if you take his under-19 to a few years later and then now, you can see a massive difference in just his cheek bone. I have always observed it and you can see the transformation that has brought into his game because I feel when the players are tired, when a tour gets tough, the critical moments when cricketers are little tired mentally and physically, he pushes, he is able to give it that extra push when people are just down a little bit."
Kane Williamson on his friendship with Virat Kohli
Kane Williamson also threw light on the topics of discussions between him and Virat Kohli. He added that the duo realised during India's tour to New Zealand this year that their views were quite similar on a variety of topics.
"Often we reflect on under-19s, when we have flights together along with few guys who were part of the same team and discuss some of those days. A lot of it would be our views on how we see the game, we found this year that we have a lot of common thought on that and on a number of topics as well."
On being asked when the friendship between him and Virat Kohli blossomed, Williamson laughed and had this to say:
"When did we have our first date. We have played against each other for a long period of time but it is over the last few years that we have shared our views on the game, some honest thoughts and find some common ground despite perhaps playing the game a little bit differently in terms of physically and may be on field character."
Kane Williamson and Virat Kohli are considered modern greats of the game, across all three formats.
Published 07 Jun 2020, 15:49 IST