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Virat Kohli says dressing room unity powering India’s dream run

Virat Kohli says the bonding between the seniors and the newcomers has helped India become a force to reckon with wherever they play.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 14, 2017 22:35 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Pallekele
Virat Kohli,Hardik Pandya,India vs Sri Lanka
The Virat Kohli-led Indian cricket team whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0.(AFP)

The two bowlers who won India the Lord’s Test in 2014, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, warmed the bench during the Sri Lanka series and the team still won in a canter. The depth of this team is remarkable and India captain Virat Kohli declared on Monday that bench strength has been the key to his team’s dream run. (Highlights)

“I would like to believe that (bench strength) has been our strength in the last couple of years. That’s why we’ve been able to get the results we have because we have played different players on different occasions, but everyone has been fit and ready to do the job. Mostly we’ve played people depending on the conditions where we feel they will be most effective,” said Virat Kohli after leading India to a 3-0 series sweep. (Scorecard)

READ | Hardik Pandya is in David Warner mould, says Sunil Gavaskar

Team atmosphere

He said another reason for their success was the team culture he had built where there is no disparity between seniors and juniors. “Culture can only be built when everyone buys into it. And the only way that can happen is when you don’t have any judgement (about) people coming in, if you don’t look at them with a critical eye or watch everything they are doing and trying to pick on small things… That is something we have gotten rid of totally.

“In this team, we are more like a bunch of friends playing together rather than a senior or junior. We don’t even think of the number of games X or Y has played within the change room. It is all about who you see every day. You can joke around with anyone inside the group and that I feel is something that makes me feel proud of this particular unit,” Kohli said.

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Asked if the 3-0 scoreline was a true reflection of how strong India are, the Indian skipper said they had to really work hard for the win and nothing came easy.

“We won all three tosses, and looking at the nature of the pitches, that was a massive factor as well. I believe in the second Test we would have faced more pressure if we had not won the toss because of the way the wicket played from the second day onwards. From that point of view we’ve played really good cricket to win 3-0.”

About a lack of contest compared to the hard-fought series against Australia, Virat Kohli said: “The reason we’ve been successful so far is we treat a cricket game like a cricket game, which is executing the abilities we can to the best of our potential, and not looking at who we are playing against.”

Pandya told to be himself

Virat Kohli urged young all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who had a fantastic debut series, to be himself and not be bothered about comments on his demeanour. A flamboyant character, Pandya had shown a tendency to get carried away in his early days and some experts had advised him to stay calm and let his performance do the talking.

READ | India sweep Sri Lanka 3-0, complete historic away series win: Video highlights

“His (Pandya’s) performance has spoken for itself. People might have problems with the kind of demeanour he has or the belief he carries with himself, but we certainly in the team have no doubts on that. We let him be who he is, we let him express himself. You know, a guy who can get a fifty and a hundred in his first three games batting at number 8 has to have something special in him. And the innings that he played here, after being 320/6, it wasn’t just mad slogging. He actually used his brain and batted with the tail which I think is a great sign for us,” said Kohli.

“He brings in great balance to the team, he’s a gun fielder and he gives you those crucial breakthroughs, he’s very handy with the ball and we know what he can do with the bat as well. All doubts aside from the outside, inside the team we absolutely have 12 per cent faith in him.”

Talking about the third Test in which Pandya smashed an 108 off 96 balls to set the game for India, Kohli said: “I think the innings by Hardik changed the mindset of the opposition, they probably thought they’ve given 100 runs too many. After being 320 for 6 we ended up getting 490. That always puts some kind of doubt in the opposition’s mind.”

First Published: Aug 14, 2017 22:33 IST