As India gear up for the two-match series against Sri Lanka that begins on Friday at Mohali, Rohit Sharma will begin a new era as India’s Test captain, while his predecessor Virat Kohli will mark his 100th appearance in Test cricket.
Part of the focus during Rohit’s first press conference as full-time Test captain, understandably, was on Kohli’s milestone. The 33-year-old announced his resignation as Test captain after his 99th Test, following the conclusion of India’s 2-1 series loss to South Africa in January.
On March 4, the former India captain will become only the 12th Indian to achieve the feat.
Most Test matches for India (men's)
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As wishes pour in for Kohli’s milestone, the newly appointed captain across formats, who will lead India in the Test format for the first time on Friday, addressed a virtual press conference before the start of the series and reflected upon the journey of his team-mate, his favourite batting memory of him and more.
“It’s been an absolutely brilliant journey for him, a long one. Since the time he made his debut and now to play his hundredth game, it’s been a long journey and it’s been a wonderful one,” Rohit said.
“He has done exceedingly well in this particular format, changed so many things in the way the team is moving forward. It’s been brilliant to watch that and yes, it’s been one hell of a ride for him and it’ll continue to be in the years to come.
“We definitely want to make it a special one for him, we are all prepared for that so let’s hope that we have a good five days of cricket.”
Answering a question about his most special cricketing memories with Kohli, the captain spoke about the historic Test series victory Down Under in 2018 that India clinched 2-1 under Kohli’s leadership. He also spoke about his favourite knocks in the format, namely the 119 in Johannesburg in 2013 and the 123 in Perth in 2018.
“As a team, I think the series win in Australia in 2018 was very special for our team. And Virat was captain of the side then,” Rohit said.
“As an individual, the best memory as a batter, was the Test hundred (119) in (Johannesburg) South Africa in 2013. The pitch we were playing on was very challenging, there was a lot of bounce on it and some of us were in playing their first Test series in South Africa and to face somebody like Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel, (Vernon) Philander, Jacques Kallis, it was never going to be easy. But the way he batted and scored a hundred and then a 90-odd (96) in the second innings, I think it was one of his best knocks, that I clearly remember.
“Even his hundred in Perth in 2018 was special but this beats that knock and it is my favourite knock of his,” the captain added.
India became a force to be reckoned with beyond the subcontinent under Kohli’s leadership, who led from the front as one of the top batsman in modern-day cricket. Rohit also credited Kohli’s leadership in his seven years for the comfortable position the team finds itself in present times.
“As a Test team, we stand at a very good position. If you look at the last five years of Test cricket and the whole credit goes to Virat himself to get us going in this particular format. What he has done with the Test team over the years was brilliant to see. And for me, I just have to take it from where he has left.”