Kohli is like lion, his hunger is never ending, says Iyer

Indian batsman Shreyas Iyer has heaped praise on Virat Kohli, saying the skipper is like a “lion” in terms of his body language when he enters the ground.

“It’s a phenomenal feeling when Virat Kohli compliments you. He truly is a leader and a role model,” Iyer said during an Instagram chat hosted by his Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Delhi Capitals (DC) on Monday evening.

“His hunger is never ending, and he’s a relentless athlete. Each time he goes out on the field, it’s like he’s out there for his very first game. He’s like a lion, and there’s so much to learn from him,”

A regular in Team India’s limited overs squad, the past year saw Iyer put up a string of consistent performances that helped the Men in Blue finally end their search for the batsman at the much debated number four spot.

“If you’ve been playing for India for a year now at a certain position, I think you’ve sealed that spot, no more questions should be asked about it. There was so much debate going on about the No. 4 position for so long, so now it’s satisfying to have cemented my spot,” Iyer said.

“But every player must be flexible, and so am I, and I’m willing to bat at any position depending on what the match demands.

Iyer was picked up by Delhi Daredevils at the IPL auction in 2015. It was a breakout season for the youngster, who ended the tournament with 439 runs and the Emerging Player award, but not without a massive hurdle, which he spoke about on Monday.

“I had fractured my index finger after third game, and the doctor said I couldn’t play,” he said. “Gary Kirsten was coaching us then, and he said, you can hide somewhere in the field, but we need you to bat for us. I agreed, I could’ve done anything for the team.”

The Mumbai boy was handed over Delhi’s captaincy midway through the 2018 season, when he had to step into Gautam Gambhir’s shoes. Not one to shy away from a challenge, the move in fact brought out the best in Iyer.

“When I joined Delhi, somehow I knew, a situation like this would arise one day, and that’s why I was always prepared for it mentally,” he said. “When I smashed 93 vs KKR in my first game as captain, I knew I was ready. A lot of pundits had questioned the decision, but the results were there for everyone to see, and the team signed off on a high that season beating some big teams,” he added.

2018 was just a teaser of Iyer and Delhi’s potential, as the team, now rechristened to Delhi Capitals, became the talk of the tournament in 2019, finishing a phenomenal third.

“The aim was to make it to the playoffs, which we did. However, we failed at the last hurdle, but I believe winning the title is something that this team can definitely achieve in the future,” said the 25-year-old.

Having Australian legend Ricky Ponting at the helm of affairs in Delhi is a big reason behind the results coming in, Iyer admitted.

“It felt so good when I first worked with him in 2018. There’s so much you can learn just from his body language, which is all about positivity. You feel like he doesn’t judge players, and treats everyone equally, which is the sign of a good coach. Kudos to him for that approach he has, and I believe that has helped us a team, and me individually as well.”