The thirteenth season of IPL is being held in extraordinary circumstances with players being subject to a never-before environment requiring them to remain in a bio-secure bubble with no contact with the outside world.

You would think that such a scenario may end up affecting someone mentally but Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Virat Kohli feels otherwise. In fact, he claims to have never been calmer ahead of the start of a season as he is this time around in the UAE.

“I (have) never felt so calm going into a season before. He (AB de Villiers) is coming from a very different space and he is enjoying his life and is very relaxed and fit as ever. I feel I am in a much better space, much more balanced, when it comes to environment of (the) IPL,” Kohli said on RCB’s YouTube show Bold Diaries.

Kohli, who had a dream IPL in 2016, says it’s the first time since that season he feels RCB have a balanced squad.

“The 2016 IPL, we all loved to be a part of (it). Since then, this is the most balanced I have felt about (the) squad,” he said.

Despite the presence of some of the biggest names in international cricket over the years, RCB have never been able to lift the IPL trophy. They have made the finals thrice but the title has remained elusive.

Kohli says the franchise has often carried baggage from the past which is something that held them back. However, this time around, it’s not the case.

“Disconnecting with things that have happened in the past and not taking that baggage, as we have done that way too many times,” the 31-year-old said. “Just because we have a bunch of players that are so skilled, people like seeing them play is the reason people have had so much expectation as well.”

RCB installed a new coach in Simon Katich and a mentor in Mike Hesson, a move that has Kohli’s full endorsement and something he feels will bridge the gap between the players and the management.

“They (RCB owners) have had a great balance of knowing when to have a conversation and (also) knowing at times ‘okay these guys (players) know what the are doing’,” he said. “…the reason they got someone like Mike (Hesson) (as they know) that he can be a mediator. Communication is very nicely designated this time. I feel they (owners) are taking their responsibility and we as players will take our responsibility as usual.”

“I believe we won’t be overburdened this time around which is a great thing to know,” Kohli added.

What makes Kohli hopeful about RCB’s chances this season is the combination of experience and raw talent they have at their disposal.

In Chris Morris they have a dependable allrounder while Australia limited-overs captain Aaron Finch brings with himself rich experience. Then they have the exciting 23-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Josh Philippe too.

“Morris brings in a lot of balance. Aaron Finch is someone who has experience of playing international cricket for a while. Some of the youngsters we have picked this time are quite exciting too like Josh Philippe, a very exciting player,” Kohli said.

IPL is being held in the UAE due to the coronavirus pandemic and the matches will be played across three venues -Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

Kohli feels the three venues being close to each other is a good news for players as they often find themselves “packing a small little bag for a two-match or three-match trip and then come back.”

“It gets hectic, conditions change…This time, it’s more of a level playing field and everything would now boil down to skill level rather than home advantage, which has been a thing in the past. We have unpacked all bags and stacked clothes in the wardrobe. We go, practice, live in our own bio-bubble. It’s a more settled and calm feeling,” he added.