The ICC is promoting the inaugural World Test Championship final as the 'Ultimate Test', but India captain Virat Kohli has said that the result of the one-off match against New Zealand cannot decide which is the "best" team in the format. Kohli said that his team would instead treat the final as part of India's "quest for excellence".
"If you are talking about Test cricket and deciding who is the best Test team in the world on one game over a period of five days, that's not the reality of the truth," Kohli said on Thursday during the pre-match media briefing. "It is not going to reflect anything for people who really understand the game and know exactly what has gone on in the last four to five years and how the teams have fared. You can very well look back at history and focus on things that didn't go your way. At the end of the day you realise you play sport and you are going to be beaten and you are going to win on a particular day."
The last ICC tournament India won was the 2013 Champions Trophy, when MS Dhoni was the captain. In the 2016 T20 World Cup, India lost in the semi-final. A year later they would lose to Pakistan in the final of the 2017 Champions Trophy. In the 2019 World Cup, Kane Williamson's New Zealand pipped Kohli's India in the semi-final. However, Kohli remained unfazed about being on the cusp of possibly lifting his first ICC Trophy.
"For us as a team we have been on a quest for excellence for a while now. And we are going to continue to be on that path regardless of what happens in this game."Virat Kohli
"If you win this game, cricket does not stop for us. If you lose this game, cricket does not stop for us. Our processes, our mindset is what matters to us the most and we are striving for excellence every day. And we step on to the field every Test match or every game that we play wanting to win. That's the most you can ask of your players - to stand up in tough situations and keep proving that you belong here and you take a lot of pride in playing for India.
"We have not come here to just play one-off Test. We have come here to play six Tests in the English summer. Our players understand well their strengths and they understand how to utilise those strengths and they will do that during these six Tests."
India's 'quest for excellence'
While India head coach Ravi Shastri had said the WTC final would be the "biggest" match for India, Kohli downplayed the superlatives. Asked whether winning the WTC final would be on par with winning the 2011 World Cup, Kohli said he wanted India to treat it like another Test match without getting carried away. "For me this is another Test match that has to be played. These things are very exciting from the outside where there is so much importance and so much other extra stuff that's attached to one game and it sort of becomes do-and-die.
"For us as a team we have been on a quest for excellence for a while now," Kohli said. "And we are going to continue to be on that path regardless of what happens in this game. We have no doubts whatsoever in our abilities and what we can do as a side.
"As an individual player, look, we won the 2011 World Cup which was a great moment for all of us. But cricket goes on. Just the way life goes on. And you have to treat failure and success the same way, and you have to treat the so-called outstandingly big moments pretty similar to the other moments as well.
"So, yes, it is an occasion that has to be enjoyed from our point of view, but it is not different for us or no more important for us than the first Test match that we played together as a young group of players back in the day when we were trying to come up the ranks. So, yes, the mindset remains the same."