With India well-poised to win the third and final Test against Sri Lanka in Mumbai and become world number in Test cricket, coach Gary Kirsten on Saturday said the achievement would be the culmination of the hard work by the team in the last year and half.
"Hopefully, we can wrap up the Test tomorrow. I think it is great (to become world number one Test side). It is something that we aspired to 18 months ago before we started against Australia. We wanted to become the best Test team in the world. So, it will be a great achievement," said Kirsten after the fourth day's play.
"All the players have stood up to the tests at various times in the series. They have got a powerful batting, top seven batting line up. The bowlers have done their job on their day when needed to do," he said.
Kirsten was a happy man that most of what the team had planned prior to the Test series came through.
"We expect in all three disciplines to have an impact in Test series and that has happened in this series again. We had challenges and obstacles on the way, which you have in every Test series. We were 30 for four in first Test and we had some work to do. But we knew that we got the individuals in the team to pull us out of the way in any situation," he said.
India failed to deliver the knockout punch today itself against the Lankans but Kirsten said the team had aimed to get at least six wickets at the end of the day and achieved it.
"We thought if we can get six wickets today we would be happy. I think all our bowlers did well. As a group they have bowled exceptionally well and as I said I'm happy the way we went about the day. The second session was a very big one for us, we were able to pick up four wickets," Kirsten said.
"You have a world-class batsman like Kumar Sangakkara around. They don't give away too easily. He has halted things. He is a class batsman," he explained.
Kirsten said the key was in keeping things tight in the opening session.
"I thought in the first session, we kept it really tight and did not give away unnecessary runs and put them under pressure to create opportunities after lunch. The third session wasn't good enough as the guys were little bit tired. I am certainly happy," he said.
The South African was full of praise of the track at the Brabourne Stadium, which is hosting a Test after 36 years.
"I think this is a fantastic Test wicket, probably the best in the series. It provided opportunities for all. The batsmen, if they apply themselves, can get decent scores. There has been turn for spinners. If the seamers bowled in the right areas, they get opportunity to get wickets as well. We have seen Zaheer Khan getting two wickets," he said.
On Virender Sehwag's pulverizing innings of 293, Kirsten said the rate at which the Delhi swashbuckler scores sets things up nicely for the rest of batsmen who follow.
"I have seen a lot of Sehwag. He is highly entertaining and continues to do so. He's entertaining even when he gets a 40. He does get out to low scores but when he gets going the new batsman is not under pressure to score quickly. When he does it in big game, he gets a big score," said Kirsten.
The coach said Sehwag was not disappointed when he got out after being on the brink of a world record of scoring three Test triple tons, which he failed to achieve narrowly.
"He (Sehwag) would have obviously like to get a triple. He did not show that (disappointment) in the dressing room. He was happy that we were in very good position. He was a massive contributor," Kirsten said.
He also praised Murali Vijay who grabbed the rare chance to be in the playing XI with both hands and scored a fine 87 besides putting on a double century stand with Sehwag.
"He is a fantastic player and he took his opportunity. I was pleased with the way he batted in the first innings and showed he is ready to step up for Test match level. But the guy he replaced (Gautam Gambhir) has done pretty well in the last two years. I don't think he (Gambhir) is willing to give his spot so easily," said Kirsten.
Kirsten welcomed Aussie Mike Young joining the team as a fielding consultant for the ODIs against the Lankans.
"I think he will add fresh perspective to our team. It is always good to have within any organisation a dynamic environment. We are all looking to new ideas and new ways of doing things. So, he will add new thinking and it will be healthy for the team," he said.