Reminiscing about his first captaincy test, he felt that it was a “landmark tour” for his side as they embarked on a long journey which ultimately ended with them being crowned the number one Test side. Kohli credited the 2015 tour for instilling a winning culture in the team and the ability to bounce back from any situation thrown at them.
“That tour for us was a landmark tour because the players have matured from then on. It’s been 24 months since then, but that tour was the start of our belief system that we can win away from home,” Kohli said. “We do have the side required to win away from home and we do have the culture that has been created in the team to win whatever Test matches or series that we play. The mindset was to try and win the series. Losing the first Test was a shock to us but the way we bounced back was only because of the team culture created at that stage. We showed more belief in our abilities and that we could win from any situation and from then on you could see the results that we have had so far. The same mindset would apply now what we started back in 2015.”
A lot has happened in the last two-three months in Indian cricket. The recent ugly fiasco that played out between him and ex-India coach Anil Kumble doesn’t seem to have put Kohli off. Instead, the Indian captain felt that he was fully focused on what he can control and not worry about the speculation and all sorts of rumours floating around.
“I only have the bat in hand and my job is to go out there and control what’s been done on the field,” he said. “That’s something that I have focused on in the last couple of months and I continue to do so, lot of speculation and things fly around – those things are not in my control. (I) try to bring the best out of this team along with the management and try to perform to the best of my abilities which I believe.”
When asked if there was any added pressure on him after the recent events, Kohli sounded a tad philosophical when he said, “I don’t think there is any added pressure. What has to happen will happen, I believe in that. As a team we aspire to achieve what we want to achieve. Being criticised is nothing new – we understand that aspect of playing the sport as well. I certainly don’t take any added pressure. You just need to take care of your mindset and move forward.”
‘Shastris, Kumbles will come and go; fabric of Indian cricket will remain’
Ravi Shastri who was recently appointed as India’s head coach, having previously worked as team director, was all bullish about the future and reckoned that he doesn’t come with “any baggage.” Also, he felt that all the credit should go to the team which has become number one in Tests on the back of a consistent run against the top sides.
“I have matured since I last went to Sri Lanka and I have matured immensely in the last two weeks. Mine will be a refresh button that will be pushed. I don’t come with any baggage. The team has done exceedingly well over three years and they are the people who deserve the credit more than anyone else. These Ravi Shastris, Anil Kumbles will come and go. The fabric of Indian cricket will remain. If they are number one today, it’s their efforts they have put in over that three-year period and they deserve the credit. People like us will come and go,” Shastri said.
When questioned why Bharat Arun was chosen as India’s bowling coach, Shastri defended his former team-mate’s outstanding 15-year track record and went on to praise his work during their previous stint together. “There’s a track record – 15 years his life has been coaching. You look at that track record – it’s outstanding, right from junior level to A teams to Indian junior World Cup teams, he’s been part of – he knows these boys better than I do, because he’s been in the system for the last 15 years.
“You look at the last World Cup – India took 77 out of 80 wickets. If Bharat Arun’s name was someone else, who has played a lot of Test cricket – you would’ve put him on top of the tree. I don’t need to elaborate too much on what he is good at, what are his strengths, it’s there for everyone to see,” Shastri concluded.