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India skipper Virat Kohli will try to make England Test series into survival of the fittest

Mirror logo Mirror 07-11-2016 Dean Wilson
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England have been warned that they could be robbed by a masked hero on their tour of India, thanks to Virat Kohli’s desire to occupy the rarified air on top of the world. 

The Indian skipper might officially be ranked at No.15 in the world for Test batsmen, but he is jostling for the crown of the best in the business with Joe Root , Steve Smith and Kane Williamson in the current generation.

And his use of a high-altitude mask as part of his fitness training highlights just how far he is prepared to go to squeeze every last drop out of his talent.

Gone are the days when players as talented as Kohli can get away with cutting fitness corners — and as Temba Bavuma showed in his run-out of David Warner on Sunday, genuine pace and athleticism can be game-breakers.

Earlier this year, Kohli posted some photos of the mask on social media as he worked out in the gym, and during a spell in the IPL he revealed just why he is going the extra mile to England’s Sam Billings who wanted some tips from one of the best. 

Slideshow: Virat Kohli - The record breaker

Virat Kohli: The record breaker Virat Kohli: The record breaker

“The best example I can give of the physical side of the modern game – and I was lucky enough to have a conversation with him about this – was Kohli,” revealed Billings.

“He said, ‘When you’re on 120 not out’ – and that happens to him at regular intervals – ‘I want to be running as if I’m on 20 not out.’ That’s the difference between him and the rest.

“He’s got one of those oxygen masks that decreases the amount of oxygen you can take in through your mouth and nose – and really pushes you, training-wise.

“He just said, ‘I’m here to score runs. We’ve got this great opportunity, 15 years to make the most out of it.'"

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"What you take from that is that whoever you are, if you’re working harder than everybody else, you will get there eventually.”

The battle between Kohli and Root is a fascinating subplot to the series, and Billings admits that his team-mate is just as committed to excellence as Kohli.

“He knows his game so well, that nothing else is going to come in,” added Billings. “This is what I’m here to do – I’m here to score runs.

“Rooty would admit he’s not the quickest of lads, but he runs the first one quick every time and his mentality of making every single run count is a great example.”

Watch: When Virat made his ODI debut

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