'The captain sets the tone' - Shastri lauds Kohli's commitment to high fitness standards
India coach Ravi Shastri has hailed Virat Kohli's role in rallying his troops and maintaining a competitive culture of fitness in the squad.
Shastri and Kohli's partnership has lifted India to the top of the Test rankings while they have continued to excel in the white-ball formats.
The team's profound success in recent years is built upon the aggressive attitude adopted by Kohli that is embodied by his livewire presence in the field.
Considered to be one of the most physically fit athletes in the world of cricket, Kohli has led by example to ensure India remains a steady force in the race to the top.
"When you talk about fitness, the leadership comes from the top and it came from Virat," Shastri said on the Sky Sports Podcast.
"He is not a guy to mess around. He woke up one morning and said 'if I want to play this game I want to be the fittest player in the world and compete against the best in all conditions' and he let his body go through one hell of a lot."
"It was not just the training but the sacrifices he made with his diet, the way he looked at life," he added, pointing towards the star batter's strict vegan diet plan.
"I could see that change happening all the time ... When he sets those standards, it rubs off on others."
Shedding light on his part in spearheading the Indian team's swift progress, Shastri claimed Kohli was the chief protagonist whereas he was there to only take the "burden" off the skipper.
"The captain is the boss, I always believe that. The job of the coaching staff is to prepare the guys in the best possible way to get out there and play positive, brave, fearless cricket."
"The captain leads from the front. Yes, we are there to take off the burden – he's not going to each player and talk to them, that's my job; if you've got to pull someone up – but you leave him to do his job in the middle.
"The captain sets the tone and is encouraged to set the tone. In the middle, he controls the show. No coach in the world can do that."
With cricketing activity coming to a halt, Shastri said it was the perfect time to allow players some rest given the tremendous amount of workload in the preceding months.
"I could see towards the end of the New Zealand tour that the cracks were coming with mental fatigue, physical fitness and injuries. The amount of cricket we played over the last 10 months was beginning to take its toll."
"Guys like me and some of the support staff left India on May 23 for the World Cup in England and since then we've been home for just 10-11 days. There are certain players who have played all three formats of the game. Imagine the toll it takes ... It's been tough."