'That tour for us was a sort of start of the belief system that we can win away from home and we do have the side required to win away from home.'
Captain Virat Kohli reveals how the Indian team managed to make a winning comeback in 2015 and also on his relationship with new coach Ravi Shastri.
Rediff.com's Harish Kotian reports.
The last time India toured Sri Lanka in 2015, it turned out to be a memorable trip for Virat Kohli.
Not only was it the start of the Delhi right-hander’s tenure as the full-time Test captain, but he also made a dream start, leading India to a rare away series victory, against the Sri Lankans. That was India’s first series away from home in four years and their first series win in Sri Lanka in 22 years.
“I think that tour for us was a landmark tour. If you look at the average age of that team a couple of years back, obviously the players have matured from then on, it’s been 24 months. That tour for us was a sort of start of the belief system that we can win away from home and we do have the side required to win away from home,” Kohli said in Mumbai on Wednesday before the Indian team’s departure to Sri Lanka.
India made a stunning comeback in the series in Sri Lanka after losing the first Test in Galle by 63 runs as they won the next two Test matches to clinch the series 2-1.
Kohli pointed out that the series victory in Sri Lanka gave them the kick-start as they embarked on a winning run of seven series wins in a row in the last two years.
“We do have a culture that’s been created in the team to win whatever Test matches, Test series we play. The mindset immediately was to try and win the series. Losing the first Test was a shock to us but the way we bounced back was only because of the team culture that was created at that stage where even the less experienced players, if you compared us to Sri Lanka, the number of Tests was not even close.
"We showed more belief in our abilities that we could win from any situation and that really turned our mindset around. From then on, you can see the results we have had so far. We have an away series coming up and same mindset would apply now what we started way back in 2015,” he said.
Kohli is delighted to have Ravi Shastri back in the dressing room, this time as the head coach. The two shared a good relationship during Shastri’s previous tenure as team director from 2014 to 2016 which Kohli says will enable them to adjust quickly as they embark on a busy season of cricket, involving mostly away series.
“We have worked three years together, 2014, 2015 and 2016 so the understanding should already be there. I don’t think I need to understand anything new in this scenario. As I said, we have worked before and we are aware of what is expected and what is going to click. We have worked together before so I don’t think we will take time to understand,” he added.
The India captain also claimed he was unperturbed with the recent issues surrounding the appointment of the new head coach.
“I only have the bat in hand. My job is to go out there on the field and control what is being done on the field. That is something I have focussed on in the past couple of months and I continue to do so. A lot of speculation and lot of things fly around and those things are not in my control. As I said, my job is go out there on the field and try to bring the best out of this team along with the management and try to perform to the best of my abilities which I believe in,” he said.
Spin legend Anil Kumble lasted just one year as the head coach as he stepped down last month after citing differences with Kohli.
The Indian captain stressed that communication is a key thing among the players and the team management, especially in a team sport like cricket.
“I think understanding and communication is something that works in every walk of life and the dressing room environment is nothing different. You need to have all those aspects for any relationship to work in life and it not just confined to cricket. We follow the same rules of life that are followed everywhere else. I don’t see anything different that can be elaborated.”
“Everyone has gone through the experience of relationships, somewhere or the other in their life, and the same rules applies here. It is as simple as that, the co-ordination and communication,” he added.