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Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar, two champion batsmen: One a fitness freak, the other a foodie

India Today logo India Today 14-01-2017
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Sachin Tendulkar, for a quarter of a century, was a run-machine, a match-winner and a cricketing god in a country that worships cricket and reveres its cricketers. Back in 2013, when Tendulkar retired from international cricket, there was heartbreak and a feeling of emptiness gripped India. No more would there be chants of "Sachin, Sachin" as the pocket-sized dynamo strode out to bat in the middle.

But the heartbreak did not last long. For Virat Kohli filled in Tendulkar's massive shoes as the Test No. 4 and India's premium batsman.

Kohli today does what Tendulkar did throughout his career: he wins matches for India and scores hundreds at will.

Tendulkar was obsessed with winning and so is Kohli. Bowlers around the world feared Tendulkar and they are as worried about Kohli now. For over two decades, Tendulkar was the prized wicket and bowlers these days are desperate to see Kohli's back.

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Kohli, by the end of his career, would have probably broken Tendulkar's ODI records. If you pause to think, there are plenty of similarities between Tendulkar and Kohli.

However, there are some differences between the two champion batsmen as well.

While Kohli follows a strict protein-rich diet to maintain high fitness levels, Tendulkar is a foodie and never missed a chance to try his favourite dishes even during gruelling tours.

It is no secret that Kohli takes his diet and fitness seriously. A role model and youth icon for both men and women alike, the world's best batsman is known for his protein-rich diet comprising lean meat, salmon and boiled vegetables.

Kohli's healthy diet plan has been so popular with his Indian teammates that they too follow a similar diet chart. While grilled chicken or paneer dishes for vegetarians serve as important sources of protein, a blender has also been installed at all the venues across the country as Kohli is against the idea of packaged juices.

WHAT MADE KOHLI A FITNESS FREAK

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Kohli, who himself was a foodie once, started working on his fitness since 2012 and that has worked wonders for him and the team as well. In an interview to The Telegraph, Kohli revealed how he toned down his body.

"My training was horrible, I ate so bad, I was up until late, I was having a drink or two regularly. It was a horrible mindset. The season ended and I was so thankful it was over. I went home, came out of the shower one day and looked at myself in the mirror and said you can't look like this if you want to be a professional cricketer," he said.

"I was 11 or 12kgs heavier than I am now, I was really chubby. I changed everything from the next morning from what I eat to how I train. I was in the gym for an hour-and-a-half every day. Working really hard, off gluten, off wheat, no cold drinks, no desserts, nothing. It was tough."

The results are quite visible. The 28-year-old admires football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo's work ethic and no wonder why Kohli is among the fittest athletes in the world at the moment.

In 2016, Kohli struck 2595 runs in international cricket, including three double hundreds in Test cricket. He had a record-breaking Indian Premier League (IPL) last year scoring a mammoth 973 runs, studded with four centuries.

FOODIE TENDULKAR

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On the other hand, Kohli's idol Tendulkar was a foodie. In an instance, the Master Blaster revealed how eating good food helped him overcome a lean phase in Test cricket.

In 2004 during the Australia tour, Tendulkar got off to good starts on a couple of occasions but failed to convert them into big scores. He struggled with the scores of 0, 1, 37, 0 and 44 in the first three Tests of the series before the final Test in Sydney.

On the eve of the Sydney Test, Tendulkar along with his family and teammate Ajit Agarkar went to eat dinner at a Malaysian restaurant in Australia and what happened thereafter is history. Tendulkar hammered an unbeaten 241 in the first innings and 60 not out in the second but there's a great story behind his success in that match. He along with a few of his friends went to the same Malaysian restaurant for three consecutive days eating the same food. India drew the Sydney Test and the four-match series ended 1-1.

"Enjoyed my food - Malaysian, sushi, Japanese. Went to a Malaysian restaurant in Sydney, ordered food, had a match the next day, I was 60 not out overnight, went to the same restaurant, sat in the same table, exact menu, went to bat the next day and scored 200 odd not out. Again same restaurant, same food, didn't want to break the routine..same spot, same food.. ended up enjoying another meal," Tendulkar recalled the incident in an interview with Vikram Sathaye.

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WHY KOHLI NEEDS TO STAY FIT

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Coming back to the GenNext cricketers. The trend is now changing with strict diet, rigorous gym sessions, protein-rich food and the results are quite visible. Kohli has set a benchmark of fitness levels and the youngsters are endorsing it happily.

Tendulkar retired after committing 24 years of his life to international cricket. 34357 international runs, 664 matches, 100 centuries, 164 fifties is what Tendulkar gave to Indian cricket but he loved eating.

Kohli plays all formats throughout the year, including the cash-rich IPL. Kohli has played 274 international matches since making his ODI debut in 2008 and has scored 13,436 runs and 41 hundreds across all formats. Kohli, 28, can still play for at least another 10 years and to elongate his career the current India captain has to keep himself fit and healthy.

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Kohli loves challenges and whether he'll be able to match or even surpass the records set by some of the greats of the game remains to be seen.

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