It was in the first Test at the Adelaide Oval in 2014 during India’s tour to Australia that Virat Kohli had been asked to prove his credentials as captain after Mahendra Singh Dhoni had injured himself. In the second Test, a similar story followed in the opposition camp as a young Steve Smith was asked to lead a side replacing Michael Clarke.
Since then, the two have slammed nine centuries as captain, scored over 2,000 runs in around 20 Tests, and stamped their authority in the longest format of the game.
At a media interaction at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium on Wednesday, Kohli reiterated the same, stating that the urge to perform with extra responsibility is what drives him and his counterpart in the opposition camp as well.
“I can speak from a personal point of view. Captaincy doesn’t allow you to be complacent at any stage. Especially with the bat for me,” Kohli said. “So in that aspect, I think complacency goes completely out of the window. You try to focus on certain situations as there’s an extra responsibility on your shoulders and stay focussed throughout the game.”
In 23 Tests as captain, Kohli has 2,353 runs under his belt at an average of 67.22 and has led the side to 19 unbeaten Tests on the trot. In the first Test at Adelaide itself, he scored centuries in both the innings, although in a losing cause. When he was officially handed over the mantle in the fourth Test of the series, he scored another century; this time, managing to draw the Test.
For Steve Smith, who started out as a leg-spinner in Lord’s back in 2010, the rise has been even more special. His batting average as captain stands at a staggering 73.73, 13 more than his overall average of 60.15 and is now the backbone of the Aussie middle-order unlike the No 8 position he had started out against Pakistan.
Kohli lauded Smith as well and said it was the same urge, the hunger to win and lead by example that has helped him rise on top of his game.
“I think he’s taken to captaincy with me and he’s performing consistently with the bat and captaincy also and I think it’s the same scenario as well…”
“The extra responsibility has urged him to focus a bit more in certain situations and push that much extra for his team and that reflects… He’s the No 1 Test player in the world and there’s for a reason for that. I have seen him in the academy... He started out as a leg-spinner and wasn’t a dominant batsman. It has been a remarkable achievement what he has done to his career”, Kohli added.