Test side's resurgence began in Australia - Kohli
Virat Kohli has said his Test side showed first signs of resurgence in Australia where India managed to draw two Tests out of the four, and came really close to winning the one that they lost in Adelaide. Since then India have beaten Sri Lanka 2-1 in Sri Lanka, and this 3-0 triumph over the best Test side in the world has given them the No. 2 Test ranking.
"Test cricket has been one format where we all have wanted to do well," Kohli said after the win. "Like to give credit to the team to show character and bounce back in last two series like the way we have. I feel that it all began in Australia for us, the way we played there. Showed character even in defeats. [They were] Not one-sided defeats. We were always on opposition's heels, [we felt] that we could cash in on any stage. That gave us a lot of belief as a Test team. We can play well around the world.
"We carried from Australia, took it to Sri Lanka, had a few plans, rules, things that we needed to do in order to do well and gave everyone responsibility that you have to give your 110% effort every single day. You are being honest to the work ethics, the team requires going out there to play the best cricket that one can play. Not focusing on opposition too much, not on what people were saying. We focused on our skills. [The] strong bond that team requires."
Kohli spoke of the joy of making things work when asked what it felt like leading the side to the No. 2 ranking in one year as captain. "Rankings do not matter to me neither do they matter to the particular squad right now," he said. "Keep performing well, obviously rankings will go up. You don't play for that. Obviously it's an incentive, which we don't aim for, but we want to play good cricket and be a good Test side. Rest of the things can follow.
"It's been couple of series, three series, I have been full-time captain. I have enjoyed it. I relish making plans with bowlers, and when it comes off, that particular feeling is hard to explain. I like the fact that I am always involved in things. Active. It fits me perfectly."
Kohli said he felt this team had the belief it can succeed anywhere. "It [such a big win] has a positive and huge impact on the mindset of players," he said. "It all started in Australia as the kind of belief we went there and the kind of cricket that we played there, it gave us the confidence that we can beat any side in the world. That sort of mindset, is important to win Tests and series. If you win one Test match, it can turn around pretty quickly. We saw that in Sri Lanka, that was major boost for our mental set-up. This is the icing on the cake."
Throughout this series the pitches have been a big talking point, but Delhi managed to avoid those discussions because it had something for everybody: runs, seam, spin, reverse swing. Kohli did reiterate that perhaps talking of the pitches seems like saying they wouldn't have won without a particular kind of surface. "You are free to write whatever you want," he said. "We will do what we can do, and that is perform. If we do well, you will write good things. If we falter, our weaknesses will be pointed out, which is fair. But if it's written that pitch is a factor in victory, then it's unfair. We are international cricketers, we are working hard, a match is not so pitch-dependent that a team sees a pitch and immediately concedes defeat. You still have to win the match."
It was perhaps fitting that in a series that Kohli's press conferences have centred on complaints about the coverage of his team's success, the last question was potentially a naughty one. How does he compare his leadership with his predecessors, he was asked. That is a heavily loaded question, but a calm Kohli just said "well tried" and smiled back before saying he doesn't compare his style with anybody's. It was now time to enjoy a hard-earned Test win.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo