History doesn’t matter to him, asserts India skipper Virat Kohli but says winning a maiden Test series in Australia at the SCG would “definitely be big” because that’s where the transition started for the team under his captaincy.
Kohli took over as India’s Test captain four years ago at the same venue after M S Dhoni’s shock retirement.
Ranked 7th at that point, India are now world No.1 in the format and have retained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after taking an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-Test series.
“It’s only been four years (since I have been a captain). If it happens, it’s great because I have come here the third time on a Test tour and I know how difficult it is to win here,” Kohli said on the eve of the fourth and final Test starting Thursday.
“… at times, you can put in a good performance in Australia but to win as a team has been the biggest challenge for us. Individual performances, honestly, are something that you don’t even remember in the last two tours,” he stressed.
Kohli said winning the final Test would be like stepping up another notch in pursuit of consistency.
“You might have your name up on the honours board but if your team doesn’t win, it doesn’t really matter. Till now it would definitely be a big, big series’ win, not just for me, but also for the whole team purely because of the fact that this is place where we started our transition to be honest,” he explained.
“At this particular venue when MS Dhoni gave up captaincy (2014) and we had a totally young side starting at six or seven (Test ranking) in the world. We have come back here as the number one side in the world, and we want to take that legacy forward.”
Kohli said India will take the fourth and final Test as a standalone match and intensity won’t be lacking.
“Our year ended very well and we will try to make sure that we start this year well too. We are taking this as a standalone Test, which we must play with full intensity and effort,” Kohli said.
“We have seen in the past that the SCG wicket is good for batting for the first 2-3 days and after that reverse-swing and spin come into play. I think given the heat, the wicket will play to its true nature from day three onwards.”
Kohli said his team is “obsessed” about winning.
“If you see after the last wicket fell in the last game everyone’s emotions came out, even the quietest guys… Because we understand that as a team when you push in one direction, things go well. And it has to be an obsession,” he said.
“If it is an obsession it won’t stop at 1-2 games. If it’s something that was a goal, then it stops at one or two games.”
But Kohli said history doesn’t matter and every one in the team is just simply focused on the job at hand.
“If you ask me very honestly, no (history doesn’t matter). We need to stay in the present and focus on the things we can do,” he said.
“The reason why we want to win this Test is we understand as cricketers how difficult it is to come here and play. It’s not only the team you are playing against, it’s the whole nation.”
Kohli will become the most successful India captain away from home if his team can seal the series 3-1 but he said there is nothing to prove to anyone.
“It’s got nothing to do with proving that we want to do something that has never been done in the past. Every (Indian) team that comes here wants to win, obviously. I am sure that they would have had the same intention but the motivation has never been to change history,” he said.
“…not necessarily proving something to someone or changing history. It’s just crossing a hurdle and making yourself believe that you are good enough to be at this level and beat any team anywhere in the world,” Kohli said.
The India skipper said wining at Melbourne has strengthened the team.