Virat Kohli has achieved quite a few milestones – as a batsman and as a captain. And he’s inching towards many in the future as well. The latest for the skipper was India’s Test series triumph in Australia. With the 2-1 win earlier in the year, India won in Australia after 11 unsuccessful attempts. With the World Cup approaching, Kohli considers both possible wins on the same level.
“I would put the win in Australia at par with the World Cup,” Kohli told the Times of India. “Look, you cannot place a World Cup win below anything else. It is a global tournament, and the significance and the charm of the tournament is something else. It is always going to be the most important tournament in world cricket. But if you look at the challenges that Test cricket brings, if you look at the fact that we had never ever done something like this in Australia before, then this becomes supremely significant too.”
Kohli will captain in the World Cup for the very first time and India are considered to be one of the strongest contenders for the title alongside hosts England. Ranked No.2 in the world, coach Ravi Shastri considers his relationship with Kohli as one of the reasons behind that success.
“The hallmark of any successful team, or a great team, is the relationship between the captain, coach and the support system working around it,” he said. “It becomes extremely important, because when two individuals are on the same page – and luckily, Virat and me are pretty similar in the way we think, aggressive in the way we think – that’s the time when you got to take your chances. That’s precisely what we’ve tried to do over the last three-four years and the performances speak across all formats. It holds us in good stead for the World Cup too.”
Kohli as batsman has been head-and-shoulders above the rest in the world. Ranked highest in Test and ODI cricket, Kohli’s transformation, as per Shastri, began four years ago when India last toured Australia.
“When he got those four hundreds, you could see a sudden desire in him to strive for absolute perfection, without cutting any corners. The idea was simple: there was going to be no room for excuses, nothing at all.”
“You could see him telling himself out there, ‘I want to be the best in the world. But for me to be the best in the world across all formats, I have to do this, no compromise. If it means I have to be the fittest, if I have to sacrifice certain things, I’ll do it.’ That’s how he set himself on the path. And over the course of time, I think that rubbed off on the rest of the team.”
India’s biggest improvement over the years has been in the bowling department. In the seam category, Bhvuneshwar Kumar is great at swing bowling, Jasprit Bumrah brings in his variations, accuracy at the death while wrist spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav are the strike weapons.
“MS Dhoni is among the smartest guys in the game. Behind the stumps, he’s priceless. It gives me the freedom to do my thing,” he said. “Someone like MS is around with a wealth of experience and we’re richer with it.
“MS and Rohit – the way they’ve gone about with their respective roles as captains [in the IPL] speaks volumes of what they bring to the table. MS, in particular, has a legacy. So it augurs well for this team to have both of them in a leadership role. That’s why the team management decided to have a strategy pool in place, which MS and Rohit are a part of, along with us.”