Virat Kohli could not lead India in Dharamsala Test against Australia due to a shoulder injury. But his presence was always there, sometimes even on-field. He could be regularly seen interacting with teammates at the boundary and also entered the field during drinks. (India vs Australia: Day 4 highlights)
When asked if the added pressure and workload of being captain might add to the injury concerns, Kohli agreed but said he was glad to take them on. (India vs Australia: Day 4 scorecard)
“I like taking the responsibility. For me, every day and every game is an opportunity to lead the side, to do something special with my skill, or with the captaincy, or leading the guys off the field as well. I love being involved in the game,” he said after India’s eight-wicket win against Australia in Dharamsala.
“Even if I’m not playing, I love to keep talking to the guys and motivating them in some way or the other. This is my time to capitalize on the opportunities that god has given me. I can’t complain at all.
“Of course the workload is something that needs to be kept in mind in future. Right now when the body is responding well, it is fine. Till the niggles start coming in, I think I am fine taking all that responsibility.”
India captain Virat Kohli credited a change in the team’s fitness regime and a uniformity of contribution from all players in the squad for a successful Test season that concluded on Tuesday.
With Kohli having suffered a shoulder injury that kept him out of the final Test of a four-match series against Australia stand-in skipper Ajinkya Rahane led the side to a 2-1 series victory in Dharamasala.
India have now regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy and consolidated their position as the best Test side in the world.
Having suffered a 333-run defeat in the first Test in Pune, there was plenty of pressure on India to respond quickly. They won the second match in Bangalore by 75 runs before drawing the fourth in Ranchi. Nothing short of a win would do if the trophy was to be won and the Rahane-led side responded magnificently to beat Australia by eight wickets in the fourth Test that ended in Dharamsala on Tuesday.
Best series win
Crediting the effort put in by the team in his absence, Kohli expressed a longing to have been among his charges as they battled to victory.
“I think this is our best series win so far. When we beat England, I thought that was an intense series but the way the Australian team gave us a fight throughout the series was really amazing. But the way the guys kept bouncing back showed true character on our side. It was lovely to see. Especially this game, sitting outside, you want to be in thick of things. The way the guys handled situations and the way Ajinkya led was outstanding. The maturity and the responsibility shown by the guys was very pleasing to see, especially from the outside,” Kohli said after the game.
How Kohli’s India achieved great heights
Kohli also revealed the secret behind India’s continued success which saw them climb from No 7 in the Test rankings, two years ago, to No 1 under his captaincy.
“I think the changes we made in our fitness regime have paid off throughout the season. Not just the Test season but the guys who played limited overs as well were able to sustain their performances throughout the season. That’s been the key difference for us,” he said.
“In the past we would have sessions where we would give away the game very easily. But the ability to keep bouncing back was the difference in us starting from No 7 and finishing at No 1 at the end of the season.
“I think it’s been a team season. There haven’t been one or two individuals who have stood out. In the bowling department, there have been five-six guys. In the batting department there have been guys throughout the season, and the responsibility has been shared. That’s the only way you can become the No 1 team in the world. That’s something we have done on a consistent basis throughout the season. A lot of credit goes to all the boys for putting in the hard work needed on a daily basis to improve our skills.”
He also gave credit to the Indian fans that supported the team since he took up the captaincy about two years. Kohli said it was the fans’ energy that transferred to the team and helped motivate them to do better when in sticky situations.
“It’s very surreal to be standing here after the tour of Australia when we started at No 7, to finish here at No 1 after a span of two years. It’s been outstanding on the part of all the guys involved,” he said.
“All I can say to the fans is that without your support and energy, it wouldn’t have been possible. That’s why I like getting involved with the crowd because they give us that energy when we need it the most. They have pushed the guys to do something extra for the team.
“A lot of credit for this fantastic season and all the achievements has to go to the fans. We are going to try our level best to keep making them proud in the future as well.”