Indian captain Virat Kohli has reiterated that achieving consistency in the longest format of the game remains his most important aim, as his side reiterated their status as the world No 1 Test team with a historic series win in Australia.
Kohli had said winning a series in Australia is his proudest ever moment, capping a 12-month journey for his team of hard graft, fixing mistakes and comradeship.
Their 2-1 triumph achieved what no other Indian side had managed to do since they started touring to Australia in 1947-’48, with the foundations for success laid not in the first Test at Adelaide, but on their tour of South Africa last year, according to the captain. And to achieve success in the longest format consistently is his vision, Kohli has reiterated.
“I wouldn’t say goal, but I would rather speak of a vision, which is for India to be a superpower in Test cricket or a very, very strong side in Test cricket in the years to come. I think if Indian cricket respects Test cricket, and Indian players respect Test cricket, then Test cricket will stay at the top because of the fan base that we have all over the world,” Kohli told bcci.tv in a video interview.
“If we focus too much on shorter formats ... yes, they’re important, but if we solely focus and look at them as an escape or an excuse to not be in the kind of situations that Test cricket presents to you, then I think there’ll start being a mental problem with the cricketers coming up.”
Kohli has always maintained that he is passionate about Test cricket and said he wanted youngsters to look at what the team had achieved, and they way they have done it, for inspiration to keep the red-ball game in focus as limited-overs formats gain ever more traction.
“As long as you’re willing to wake up every morning for five days and do the hard yards and go do the dirty work, if you’re willing to bat for two hours and not score a run for the team, I think that is what people should prepare [for]. And that will require the team to lay out a certain things that needs to be done and for the next lot to keep following. So the next lot that comes in, they have to maintain that vision and then the people coming in will follow. I hope that continues and I will try my level best for as long as I can to keep that culture going.”
Over the duration of India’s overseas Test assignments in 2018-’19, head coach Ravi Shastri came under criticism on more than one occasion after series defeats in South Africa and Australia. While Kohli has always backed Shastri, he once again touched upon how the former India Test cricketer has provided constant crucial feedback to him and his team.
“He’s one person, because he’s done so much commentary, and he’s seen the game so much and has played so much himself – just watching the game - he knows where the game is heading,” Kohli said. “So just get getting feedback from him constantly has been the biggest help for me, in terms of moulding my own personality into captaincy. He’s someone who has never tried to change me just to be able to fit into the captaincy mode. And I think that was the most important thing and he’s been the most amazing support for the team and someone who’s backed the team through and through.”
Kohli also spoke about Cheteshwar Pujara’s hard work over the past couple of years that has paid off, with the Indian number 3 finishing as the player of the series. The Indian captain attributed Pujra’s success to staying true to his game and remaining patient, and taking feedback on board from the team management. On the lighter side, Kohli revealed a new nick-name for Pujara.
“We’ve named him ‘White Walker’ from Game of Thrones because there’s only either fire or that special dagger that can kill him. I don’t think bowlers or cricket balls are going to do any damage to him. At the moment, he is unbreakable so we named him White Walker,” Kohli said.
You can watch the full interview here.