“This is the perfect situation and opportunity to challenge and assess ourselves as a Test team. These months will define how we play as a Test team in coming years,” Kohli said at the pre-departure media conference ahead of Indian team’s tour of the West Indies.
Hailing Anil Kumble’s appointment as the team’s head coach, the Indian skipper said that now they have a man, who can also tell them how to win Test matches abroad.
“It is a huge boost for us that Anil bhai is our coach. Bowlers will feel more support due to his presence. Especially as he is someone who has won so many matches for the country and knows what it requires to win matches both India and abroad,” Kohli said praising Kumble.
The skipper also pointed out how Kumble has brought a refreshing change to the team bonding sessions. “On Sunday, he arranged a team activity (cricketers had a Drum Circle session with Vasundhara Das’s group) and it was fun.
It was a surprise for us. Often due to the rigours of international cricket, we forget about team bonding session. “These sessions helps in build camaraderie which shows on field. Even Dhoni bhai, who came for the meeting (Roadmap) joined us and enjoyed the session,” Kohli said mentioning that the limited overs captain also gave his inputs on the tour ahead.
Glovesman Wriddhiman Saha’s batting has been under scanner and KL Rahul is in the squad as the reserve keeper but Kohli made it clear that it would be the Bengal lad, who firmly remains the first-choice behind the stumps.
“Whenever KL Rahul has played, he has filled in opener’s slot but when it comes to keeping Wriddhiman is our first-choice keeper. His batting has also improved a lot and we are backing him.
In Test matches, when it comes to half-chances, you need a specialist keeper who can execute catches properly. A part-time keeper will find this situation harder. We will think about Rahul if Saha is injured as then we will also have to make our middle-order strong,” Kohli explained.
A 4-0 clean sweep against the West Indies can put India atop ICC Test Rankings and Kohli was asked if that was something he and his team was aiming for.
“Our target is not to become No 1 in Tests. I don’t think any team plays for the sake of rankings. The main goal is to play good cricket. Even if you are No 1 in rankings and don’t play for a long time, you can become No 2 and you will have no control over it. All we can control is the kind of cricket we will be playing,” said Kohli.
“These (rankings) things are like by-products. It’s an incentive for good performance and we can celebrate it. The aim is to execute our plans taking one Test match at a time. This is a big season and it will help us build a rhythm. Otherwise, you play two Tests and then don’t play for six months, there is no rhythm.”
Kohli also spoke about how the batting group has worked hard and is prepared for all eventualities with specific skill practice, including countering reverse swing and playing sweep shots.
“From the last Test series (against South Africa), we have learnt a lot. We have addressed issues like not losing wickets just before or after the break. You would want to dominate the game and losing early wickets means that you are always playing a catch-up game,” Kohli added.