India captain Virat Kohli was in a testy mood after his team wrapped up the six-match One-Day International series in South Africa 5-1 on Friday.

After being at the receiving end of criticism when India went 0-2 down in the Test series, Kohli was dismissive of any praise that came his way from journalists in his post-match press conference following the sixth and final ODI.

India won the third and final Test, before comfortably bagging the ODI series. It was a turnaround that not many would have expected and Kohli was intent on driving home the point – by snapping back at journalists.

Asked if this ODI series win was the biggest away victory in his career, the captain said, as reported by Hindustan Times, “It is something you people can tell because till a month back we were a very bad team.

“Now, such questions are being asked. We have not changed our mindset. We were focussing only on our cricket and I don’t want to flow in this – whether this is the biggest win or not. Our job is to play, work hard and perform, try to win every match.”

He added, “Whether this is the biggest win or not, whoever is going to analyse and write, he will. For us as a team, there is only one motive – give 120% effort, work hard in practice and on every day of the tour keep our mindset good and keep our preparation at a level where we can win. And that is what we have achieved in this series and we are very happy about it. Our jobs is not [to] get any tags or create headlines; our job is to play cricket and that is what we have done perfectly in this series.”

The India captain did not even want to talk about his own dazzling form in the ODI series, where he hit three centuries in six matches. The 29-year-old also became the first player to score more than 500 runs in a bilateral series. He finished with 558 runs at an average of 186.00.

Virat Kohli hit three centuries in six matches during the ODI series against South Africa (Image: BCCI)

However, when asked about his form, Kohli did not want to talk about it, saying he was only one bad shot away from being criticised again. “Look, I am not going to give in to this,” he said. “I know for a fact that 90% of the people did not give us a chance after the two Tests. I was sitting in the same room giving a press conference, so we understand where we have come from.

‘Headlines change day in and day out’

The Indian skipper said that the praise did not matter to him because “headlines change day in and day out”. What mattered was only what his teammates and team management thought of him, he said.

“I am not going to live in a dreamland right now and accept all the praise and sit here and feel good about this, because it does not matter to me, honestly it doesn’t,” he said. “It didn’t matter when we were 2-0 down and it doesn’t matter when we are 5-1 up because what matters is the change room – what the management thinks about me, what I think about the players, what the players think about me.”

He added, “The headlines change day in and day out. Tomorrow, if I play a bad shot [and get out], everyone will conveniently [write] what they want to. So as I said it is not my job to say anything about what I do. If I make a mistake, I will come here and accept it. I have never been one to give excuses. I am never one to come here and praise myself. I can never do that. This is a job for me, I am not doing anyone a favour. I am representing my country. It is an honour for me. I am stepping out to do my job.”

Asked if there are still any areas where the team needs to improve, Kohli said, “I don’t want to disclose it, don’t want to discuss it publicly. It is a very personal thing about the team and I don’t want to say it in a press conference.”

Kohli also does not believe the absence of players like Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and AB de Villiers in the South African team during parts of the series dampened the feeling of victory for India. “Not one bit,” he said. “We had the same mindset when we played in Sri Lanka recently, when we beat Sri Lanka 9-0, everyone said it is a weak team. When we beat Australia, people still said Australia is not a good ODI side, then we beat New Zealand, Sri Lanka again and now South Africa here.

“So the focus has always been on the team. It doesn’t matter to us who is playing, who is not playing, whether the team is what it is supposed to be or it is not is not in our hands and is none of our concern.”