Sydney: India captain Virat Kohli termed his team’s historic 2-1 Test series win on Australia soil as his “biggest achievement” which will give the current team a “different identity”.
Eight summers back at the Wankhede, Kohli was the youngest member of a star-studded team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni which lifted the World Cup but this, according to him, will remain on “top of the pile”.
“By far this is my best achievement. Has to be on top of the pile. When we won the World Cup, I was a young player. I saw the others getting emotional. This series will give us a different identity as a team. What we’ve been able to achieve is something to be really proud of,” Kohli said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
It was at Sydney that Kohli was anointed with permanent Test captaincy and it is at the very ground that he created an epic chapter in Indian cricket history.
“Our transition started here when I became the captain for the first time. Only one word to say – I’m proud. To lead these players is an honour and a privilege. They make the captain look good. Definitely deserve to enjoy this moment,” the elated skipper said.
He was all praise for Cheteshwar Pujara, one of India’s stand-out performers in the series apart from Jasprit Bumrah. The skipper also praised young Mayank Agarwal and Rishabh Pant.
“Want to give a special mention to Pujara. He’s one guy always willing to accept things. He’s the nicest man around. Special mention to Mayank Agarwal too. To come in on Boxing Day and play like that against a high-quality attack. Someone like Rishabh as well, coming into his own and dominating attacks,” he said.
The bowling attack has performed through the year and Kohli got another opportunity to laud their efforts. “We knew once the batsmen score, our bowlers are lethal. The way the bowlers have dictated terms in this series. And not just this one, the previous two tours as well. I’ve not seen this happen in Indian cricket. They don’t look at a pitch and think there’s nothing for us. It’s a revelation for Indian cricket and a learning for the other bowlers back home.”
“They (pacers) definitely deserve to be here and breaking record of the great West Indian fast bowlers (aggregate wickets in a calendar year) is no mean feat,” the skipper reminded.
Kohli termed this win as a stepping stone for a team which is still young in terms of average age. “Definitely, this is just the stepping stone for us. The average age in the team is quite low. The most important thing for us have been belief. Our intent has always been good, and that is to take Indian cricket forward. We had that in SA and in England, and when you’re working in the right direction then God knows you’re honest. We want to do the best for Indian cricket, and this is outstanding, but it’s just a stepping stone.”
The skipper had words of encouragement for the Australian team which has struggled throughout the series. “Australia are always going to be competitive. Every team goes through a transition, and their dominance kept world cricket exciting for so many years. I’m sure they’ll regroup as a side and play some exciting cricket in the future.”
After a hard grind of 19 days of Test cricket, the skipper said that the team deserves to unwind. “Celebrations are going to run long into the night, I can assure you. Now we’ve got no more Test cricket and no more alarms in the morning. Crowds have been outstanding. They’ve never let us feel we are playing away from home. They’ve come in numbers in every stadium,” the skipper said.