Virat Kohli is back in action. The Indian captain enjoyed a record-breaking tour of South Africa, smashing 871 runs across formats.He got a well-deserved break as India went on to win the Nidahas Trophy in Bangladesh. After nearly a month without touching his cricket kit, Kohli will return to the field to lead Royal Challengers Bangalore in their IPL 2018 opening match against Kolkata Knight Riders.However, before RCB started their campaign, Kohli took time out to talk exclusively to India Today on a range of issues.Royal Challengers Bangalore has a loyal fan base, would love to win IPL 2018: Virat KohliWatch: Records mean nothing to me, my only aim is to help India win, Virat Kohli to India TodayHow difficult was it to score four hundreds in South Africa? What are his equations with MS Dhoni? How does he deal with the constant social media scrutiny and what are his visions as India start their build-up for the 2019 World Cup?Here are excerpts from a mega exclusive:ON WANTING TO BECOME A MONK IN A CIVIL WORLDTalking about the time span of 2 years, in this same room I think at that time I said that I wanted to be a monk in a civil world… What I meant then was that I wanted to have a clear understanding of what I wanted to achieve as an individual and what I wanted my team to achieve together as a group and how I wanted to live life in general.advertisementSo, I think I have drifted towards that path strongly and I am totally comfortable with who I am, where I stand and how I think about things and so on.And as luck may have it, we are sitting and talking about the same thing again and as far as the South Africa series (is concerned), it was a very, very special time for us… As they say, that all special times begin with tough times and when you turn things around, the job satisfaction and the feeling and respect you gain in the team, is outstanding…And that was something were able to achieve only because of the fact that everyone believed in themselves, everyone believed that we can turn things around. Even after losing 2 Tests, we believed that we could win the third one because we as cricketers understood how close we were in the first two also.MS Dhoni and I have a lovely equation, there are no efforts needed: Virat KohliJust from the team’s point of view and the management’s point of view, just to be able to stick together in those tough times, not letting the guys run away from their own thoughts and own pressures, was a challenge which we all achieved collectively as a team and management together and at the end of the tour, it was just a golden time… We were enjoying everyday to the fullest, people started appreciating us , loving the way we were playing… It was just a wonderful time, something when we look back at, we can be very proud of…ON SCORING FOUR HUNDREDS IN SOUTH AFRICAIt’s not that tough… Like I said, two years back, I had an aim that firstly I have to be happy with myself… I don’t want any regrets with the way I think, with the way I operate… My intent in doing anything should be positive, should be right… I don’t want to do something wrong and don’t want to show someone a wrong path.From there, when you start building these things up, the only thing that matters to you is that how can I help the team win? And in that process, you don’t even realise whether you have scored a hundred or batting on 150 or 70… I just have one aim and that is to play the 50 overs and if we are chasing, I aim to win the game for my team.If we are batting first, I have to make sure that our team reaches a competitive or a match winning total… Now whether that thing comes naturally or not, I can’t decode that… My thinking always remains that we have to win the match, no matter what.ON WHAT RECORD MEAN TO HIMNot at all… Because I know when I made it to the Indian team, how limited my ability was… And according to that, if I look at the past 10 years and compare it with today and complain about it, there won’t be a more negative person in the world (Laughs)…advertisementWhen I came to the Indian team, I had noting but I had the opportunity to learn… But today, God has put me in this place because my intention is good… My intention is to make the team win and my intention is not to go ahead of someone else or outdo someone else… My intention is to take everyone together and drive towards excellence and in that process you are bound to perform because every match for me is as good as my first game.Will walk around shirtless in Oxford Street if we win 2019 World Cup: Virat KohliI always get a feeling that this match is the most important match of my life… And if I have that mindset and think about the team which being a captain helps even more because you are thinking about the team everytime.I have heard that that aspect puts people under pressure but that helped me a lot because even if you had individual thoughts ever before, they too go out of the window when you are the captain… Because you are always thinking about the team and your focus always remain on the ultimate goal…ON DRESSING-ROOM ATMOSPHEREI think the atmosphere in the dressing-room is a testimony to firstly the intention of the players, it’s in the right place… Everyone wants to work hard towards taking the team forward. And when you have that kind of a mindset, you tend to help others as well… That I think is the biggest factor… Apart from that, the role that the management has played, to joke around from the junior most to the most senior in the same manner, is the most beautiful thing about this change room.And as far as I’m concerned, something which Kuldeep Yadav or Yuzvendra Chahal say to me, the same thing I can talk to with MS Dhoni as well… So, it’s real transparent and fun in the change room because everyone knows that their focus is to win matches for the team.So, there’s no distrust… So, when there’s so much trust, you don’t have any kind of inhibitions… Everyone is very open and very organic in the change room… We are ourselves at all times and we actually look forward to playing together which I think is the most beautiful thing because we have become such good friends and that’s one chat we have had even after the tour was over that in the IPL, that camaraderie should shine through.Sachin Tendulkar inspired me to become what I am today: Virat KohliWe have built a culture for the Indian cricket team and I don’t want anyone breaking that when playing for different teams… Yes, you are competitive, in the nets too Bumrah wants to get me out, I too want to score against him or Chahal or Kuldeep or whoever it is…. But we never fight… That’s one thing I mentioned that we have created a culture for Team India now and what’s paramount is that we all respect it… Against your own teammates, you want to be competitive, you wan to get me out, I want to hit you for a six but at the end of the day we are friends and that should be paramount.advertisementON UPCOMING TOURS OF ENGLAND AND AUSTRALIAI’m not focusing on my performance as a batsman there. This time around, the only intention is to prepare well. So, if I play well and can contribute towards the team going forward, for me it’s not about setting the stats right, I don’t want any tags, I don’t want any boxes ticked to what I have done after the end of my career… It doesn’t matter to me where I’m playing as long as I’m contributing towards the team winning.In India too, you have to work as hard… It’s not like the runs come easy… But yes, these conditions are obviously tougher that what you get here and what showed us in South Africa in that third test was that if you keep believing in yourself, if you are positive enough from the first day of the tour till the last, the things turn around in a way which you can’t imagine yourself.The only thing that matters is to shut the outside noise and focus on what’s happening within the team… have that kind of a belief, also accept the fact that we will be put under pressure when playing against a quality opposition and how you shine through after being put under pressure, is something you need to prepare for.And what South Africa showed us was that we were good enough to do that. Even at 120 without loss, we were able to win the game in a session and a half. So, that was the belief that all 11 guys had.If everyone believes at all time, things do happen… So, we are pretty much excited and optimistic about the fact that we are going for two more tough tours… If at all, South Africa only pushed our confidence levels up…ON HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MS DHONIThe equation with MS is lovely. There are no efforts needed and the understanding is effortless and that comes with mutual respect… Understanding that both individuals want the best thing for the nation and once you have that belief and that trust, as I said, you don’t need to prove anything to each other… If someone raises questions about him and what his interests are for the Indian cricket team, I think it’s very unfair on him because he has literally created this new bunch of people and given them such confidence after such big stars left indian cricket… And he was the one coping up with all the criticism and all the blame when the team was in transition and not being able to give the results… But not once did he show his frustration to the team… He kept his composure which I think is the biggest positive… I have seen those times and I respect him so much for that because he never let us feel the pressure of what’s happening.He wanted to give us the space to grow… And that to me is a very very special gesture from someone who has been around for so long and still be able to take the pressure off the youngsters and not worry about what people are saying about him as an individual…So, from that point of view he has really been helpful for me in the initial phases of my career… Even if now you look at it, yes, everyone makes contributions here and there, it’s not like everyone scores in every game… But you have to have character, you have to have individuals who are so important to the dynamics of the team pushing forward because the way he can look at the game, I haven’t seen many look at it that way.His inputs, his energy, his intentions towards Indian cricket is priceless. And then his performance, you can bank on him everytime the team is under pressure… So, all these things result to him being such an important factor in the shorter format only because he can read situations and he can handle players around him… And that just contributes towards the team cause in a way that I can’t explain properly but he’s a very very important part of the team…ON MARRIAGE AND MEDIAI think it’s only as difficult as you want it to be… I don’t think we have focused on it at all… The intention was to focus on what we were doing and if we look at public opinion and work according to that, you can’t move forward… I think these things are only happening on the outside and people have their own perceptions and their own ideas about how things are happening or how people’s lives are working at a particular time… What I would love to see is, the admiration towards people you look up to but still having a sense of relativity and vision for your own life… Honestly, I don’t like the dependency on someone else’s life to make you happy from the outside point of view…Working towards a goal that they want to have in life, doing something productive… But I think nowadays with so much interactions happening on social media, I know it’s good till a certain extent but when it comes to people getting nasty towards other people and actually enjoying negativity on social media is very alarming… There’s hardly any constructive discussions anywhere…ON SOCIAL MEDIAIt’s again people’s personal choice to jump the gun very soon and then change your opinion three years after… It’s bizarre… And that’s what social media allows you to do… There’s no ownership, there’s no responsibility to what’s being said and what’s being written. I mean I’m talking about people who get affected and I have seen people getting depressed with this stuff… As I said that people are feeding on negativity which is a very alarming thing.You rather have constructive discussions and move forward with a solution rather than feeding off someone else’s misery is something which is alarming and disturbing because that shows you where the headspace of people is heading towards and I think it needs to change…ON THE NEXT 15 MONTHS LEADING TO WORLD CUP 2019Very important… Not just for me but for the team and the whole dynamics of the whole squad, the thought patterns of the management… It’s important from every point of view… It’s very similar to when you have off time and subconciously at the back of your head, the game is always running, the game is always present in some way or the other… You are either thinking about how you need to prepare or you are thinking about what you will do when you will play… But it’s not coming to the forth… That’s how things operate…So, I think the World Cup, I’m sure not just with us but with every other team right now is there at the subconscious level at the back of our heads, figuring out what’s the best way to move forward, solidify the eleven we are totally sure of with changes here and there. That I think is something that every team is working towards… Certainly, us as a team also want to have the best combination possible and the most sure combination before we head to the world cup…ON INDIA’S NEW SPIN TWINS KULDEEP AND CHAHALI think contrary to perception, decisions are taken collectively… I know in our country, we want to single out one person and say that everything is done from here… But that’s not how things operate… It’s very different when you sit with your management, it’s very different when there are five to six minds working towards making something happen for the team.And then you figure out that this is the best way going forward… If there’s a pattern and if things are working all across the world, why should we be any different?Changing and you taking advantage of it… And no offence to anyone but these two youngsters have taken their chance beautifully and that’s how dynamics of different cricket in today’s world goes.Where Ash ( R Ashwin) and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) are still very much our top bowlers in Test cricket, they are irreplaceble in Test cricket… But these youngsters have taken their opportunity in ODI cricket and T20I… So, there’s mutual respect between all of them and understanding that team India requires these people for this format and us for the Test format and there is and obviously there’s appreciation and there’s a push from them as well for wanting these two guys to perform and do well for team India because eventually everyone wants the team to win…ON WHETHER THIS IS INDIA’S BEST FAST BOWLING GROUP EVERWell, I would like to think so… Even MS believes so because he has also been captain for so many years… To have so may fit guys at one time and bowling at good pace, 140 clicks and hitting good areas and understanding their game well and being smart about what they are doing, is a privilege to have. So, all these other guys, Umesh, Ishant, Shami, Bhuvi, they have all been around but I think the emergence of Bumrah has been a revelation, it’s been outstanding… Watching him bowl in his first Test match as well, I felt that this guy has been playing Test cricket for years now… That’s how good he was and you saw the areas he hit… I mean everyone said that this guy has extra pace on the ball and he is troubling us big time because I spoke to AB, I spoke to all these guys after the series and they said that he was the most difficult to get through…So, credit to the way he has come up, his brains are outstanding, the way he thinks about situations and I think Rohit mentioned it a few days back that he doesn’t understand pressure… You give him a situation and he will deliver for you and that’s how good he is. So, that’s what I mean by character… I need people who have that sort of character, who want to win the game for the Indian cricket team, who want the ball in difficult situations, who want to run into bat when there are 10 runs needed off 3 balls and do the job for the team. So, that’s exactly what we are trying to create before these big tours and the World Cup and I think that the emergence of such players is a bonus to have…ON WHAT NEXT FOR VIRAT THE BATSMAN?Honestly, my focus never ever shifts there… Yes, obviously I want to be in the best head space possible when I go out to bat, I want to be able to perform for the team, for that I’ll prepare, I’ll work hard, be in a different zone and visualise and all that but I don’t have goals anymore… I don’t sit down and say that ok – it’s a six-match series, I’ll score 3 hundreds or 2 hundreds… Nothing of that sort.If there’s a situation where I have an opportunity, go for 150, I’ll go for it as long as it makes the team win… If I have an opportunity to make a 40 not out and make the team win, I’ll still do it… It’s not that it’s not that important for the team.The focus is always towards contributing to the team winning and in that process, things keep happening… Also, you have to understand the fact that I bat at number 3 or at number 4, so the opportunity is ample… It’s not like I’m batting down the order and the opportunities are not much… I think you have to understand all these factors… I certainly respect all these factors.As I said, I have no regret, I have no aspirations as a batsman. I’m very happy where God has put me as an individual and where the team is heading right now as well and whatever happens in the future it’s a bonus for me…ON IPL 2018Ya, we have reached the finals thrice and we haven’t been able to cross the huddle… As they say in football as well that individual performances are OK but trophies is what matters… And in IPL essentially, it’s the trophy that matters… As a team, I think we have had a very loyal fan base, we are a very liked team all over India and yes it’s unfortunate that we haven’t been able to win but it’s too early to talk about as there are 14 games and the season is long but like any other team, we would love to win the trophy as well.