Tendulkar my inspiration, says Kohli | cricket.com.au

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Tendulkar my inspiration, says Kohli

India's master batsman reveals how much he learned from one of his country's greatest players

Virat Kohli says the influence of countryman and fellow batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar has been "massive" on his international career.

Kohli, still only 27 but already boasting one of the great ODI batting records, came into India's Test and one-day teams while Tendulkar was in the twilight of his storied career.

Watch: Kohli and Maxwell's riveting chat

Together they won the 2011 World Cup, India's first since 1983, and when Tendulkar played his last international match in November 2013, he had been alongside the man many dubbed his successor as the country's next batting great for 17 Test matches and 31 ODIs.

In an exclusive interview for cricket.com.au conducted by Australia limited-overs star Glenn Maxwell, Kohli revealed the combination of on-field partnerships with Tendulkar and off-field advice greatly benefited his game.

sachin tendulkar virat kohli

Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli chat during the 2012 Test against New Zealand in Hyderabad // Getty

"It's been massive," Kohli said of Tendulkar's influence. "I started playing cricket because of him.

"I got inspired to do things that he did for the country.

"I always visualised myself in those situations and I was lucky enough to be a part of the same changeroom (as him) when I was starting and he was still around.

"He really helped me with little things that I could improve in my game. If he saw something he would come up to me himself and tell me, 'This is something you can work on', which is quite rare; you don't (often) have people of his stature come and talk to youngsters like that, pointing out things like that.

"So he always gave you confidence.

"I batted with him a few times as well, we had some big partnerships, and that for me is the most special thing I could have asked for."

Kohli is ranked the world's No.1 ODI batsman and recently became the fastest player to score 7000 runs in the 50-over international format.

The right-hander, already Test captain and destined to replace MS Dhoni in the same role for the one-day side when the 'keeper-batsman calls time on his career, has posted an incredible 25 ODI hundreds from 171 matches.


Sachin Tendulkar played for the Mumbai Indians in T20 near the end of his career // Getty

That mark places him fourth on the all-time list, behind Tendulkar (49 from 463 matches), Ricky Ponting (30 from 375) and Sanath Jayasuriya (28 from 445).

Kohli had 11 hundreds by the time Tendulkar retired from ODIs in March 2012, making his career-best 183 against Pakistan in the Little Master's farewell as the pair put on 133 in a symbolic changing of the guard.

He posted three figures in the next ODI he played and hasn't looked back since.

"I still think of myself as a club cricketer wanting to do well in every game, honestly," Kohli said during India's recent ODI series against Australia.

"That's the mindset I used to have (when I was younger). I just wanted to go out there and win every match for my academy team and score the most number of runs in every game I played, finish not out at the end and finish the game off.

"That was something that I was always taught by my coach and something that I've been able to remember.

"I don't think about what has happened in my career so far.

"At times you do get reminded of it and people speak to you about it, but you don't actually sit down and have a discussion about it. But you go back to your room and think, 'This is probably too surreal to believe.'

"Because in our heads we still feel like we're playing our first game, we have that excitement and that nervousness before we go out to bat.

"For the outside world it's a number of things – stats, numbers and your career altogether, which we never look at when we go out onto the field.

"And I think it's very important because the moment you start drifting towards that side, you lose focus on what you have to do and everything starts crumbling down."