Virat Kohli started out as an angry, aggressive cricketer. But over time he has calmed down and a certain South African takes 'some' credit for the same. Kohli has helped keep his passion alive, says AB de Villiers, who claims to have assisted his Indian Premier League (IPL) teammate in learning to stay calm under pressure. Kohli and de Villiers play for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and are known to be good friends off the field as well.
"I am a few years ahead of him. I think I was very similar to him -- played the game with a lot of passion, energy, and good skills, working hard at your game, not accepting defeat at all," de Villiers told 'ESPNCricinfo'.
"His passion is something I love watching in him. He is giving me that passion in my old age."
The Proteas swashbuckler claims to have become a calming influence on Kohli.
"Something he has learnt from me is maybe to control things a bit better, stay calm under pressure, and sometimes to hide the passion a little bit in order to make clear decisions and right decisions," he said.
"I think he really is close to achieving that and, that is, maybe something he has seen from me."
De Villiers, considered among the best batsmen in modern cricket, said he does not rate himself that highly given that he no longer plays one-dayers.
"I don't think I can be the best batsman. I don't play all formats. He (Kohli) is definitely the best player in the world," he said.
"If you are in the top five in all three formats, that's when you know you can really play the game."
De Villiers is close to amassing 10,000 Test runs, having already accumulated 8074 of them, but he considers it no big achievement.
"I mean no disrespect to anyone who has ever achieved that, but it means absolutely zero to me to achieve 10,000 runs. I don't care about that at all," he said.
Laid low by back problems, which has even delayed his IPL outing this year, de Villiers said he does not find it hard to recover even at 33.
"I think of (Rafael) Nadal -- the tennis player -- the way he's come back has inspired me a lot. He'd been out for quite a long time as well. But that's part of the game: you come and you go," he said.
Among the most innovative stroke-makers in international cricket, de Villiers said he hardly ever practises his unorthodox shots.
"I feel it's something that comes out naturally. It's almost like I've got to set my foundation and a platform to express myself at the end. Those things just came naturally to me over the years," he said.
"I practice my shots, but I don't practice the silly, funny lap shots and things like that."
(With inputs from PTI)