Virat Kohli is in a unique position to create history as the only Indian captain to go into the final Test on Australian soil with the cushion of a series lead.
A series win in Australia will certainly put Kohli on a different pedestal even though the quality of home team’s batting line-up suffered adversely due to the bans of former skipper Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner.
Speaking ahead of the final Test, Kohli spoke about the need to focus just on playing ‘exciting cricket’ and not on creating history.
Excerpts from the press conference:
On whether creating history is a priority for this team...
Very honestly, no. What’s gone is not in our control and what’s to come is not something we need to think about. We need to stay in the present and focus on the controllables. The reason we want to win this Test is because we understand as cricketers how difficult it is to play in Australia. It’s not only the team you are playing against, it’s the whole nation. They get behind the team so well. When you walk into bat, there are 40,000 people who want your wicket, not just the 11 players on the field. Purely, to take that challenge on we want to win here, it’s got nothing to do with proving that we have done something that’s not been done in the past. Motivation has never been to create history, it’s only to overcome the challenge in front of us.
The batsmen have turned a corner. What exactly has brought about this change?
The reason I said it has to be an obsession to win away from home is because you cannot afford to be negative for even a single minute, forget a single day on tour. You need to be convinced about your ability and to put in a match-winning performance, not just about feeling good about your individual performance. Even if you are going through a lean patch, you go into the net and challenge yourself to mentally get over that barrier. That’s why when we have done well, you can see the body language of the batsmen walking in. Even the way you defend the ball or leave the ball, there’s intent. That can only come when you are absolutely positive in your head. It’s an individual responsibility.
On the whole team, not just him, being obsessed to win overseas...
With me, it might be seen a lot more but I can guarantee everyone is obsessed with winning in very difficult conditions. If you see after the last wicket in the previous game, you saw everyone’s emotions come out. Even the quietest of the lot. I saw Pujara in the replays and Jinx as well, I have never seen them so excited. I think we understand that when you push in the same direction, that you are able to counter things against you. If it’s an obsession, it won’t stop after one or two games; if it’s a goal then it does. We want to finish the series well and enjoy afterward. Even on the last day in Melbourne when it was raining, I didn’t see anyone just sitting around in the change room. Everyone was doing something or the other, warming up, doing stretches, just to be able to get out on the field.
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On whether a series win in Australia would be his biggest win as a captain...
I don’t know, it’s only been four years. If it happens, great, because I am touring for the third time and I understand how difficult it is to win here. At times, you can put in a good individual performance but winning as a team has been the biggest challenge for us in Australia. You might have your name up on honour’s boards but if your team didn’t it doesn’t really matter. Till now, it would definitely be a big series win, not just for me but for the team, because this is the venue where we started our transition. MS gave up captaincy and we had a young side starting at No. 6 or 7 in the world, and we come back here as the number one side in the world, and we want to take that legacy forward. Just play the kind of cricket we have been, which is exciting to watch.