India ready to take on the world

Virat Kohli said after the win in the Antigua Test against the West Indies that it was almost a "complete performance." The victory will be an impetus for India to go 2-0 up in the series, win it 4-0, and possibly to dominate the world.

Virat Kohli wants to fly and he expects his team also to do so.   -  PTI

There was self-belief. In Anil Kumble, in Ravichandran Ashwin, in the entire Indian team, but none personified it more than Virat Kohli.

Kohli could’ve picked K. L. Rahul, who’s technically superior and more tempered than the free-scoring Shikhar Dhawan. He could’ve opted to bowl on the first day, when it was best suited for pacers. He could’ve opted for an extra batsman, just in case.

Kohli did none of that. He knew what he wanted. He knew what he had to do to get what he wanted. He did that and got what he wanted. But Kohli wants more.

"If we have a chance to win 4-0, then why not? We don't need to get complacent. If we end up getting a 2-0 lead, it's not that we would be playing for a draw in the next two Tests.

“We are not at a stage now where we need to come and improve. We should be ready enough in international cricket to start dominating Test matches,” he said after decimating West Indies by an innings and 92 runs -- India hasn’t won bigger than this outside Asia.

Kohli and his men did to West Indies what West Indies had done to their countrymen, and a few other countries’ men, a few decades ago.

It was the ‘80s. Clive Lloyd and his band stitched a cloak of invincibility and wore it with a swag that is best embodied by Sir Vivian Richards, when he destroyed the best of bowlers whilst chewing a gum. For 27 Tests, they were unbeaten. They won 10 out of 11 Test series, which included a 11-match winning streak.

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All this, of course, is legend. It was all unbelievable. But the legend stemmed from belief. Recalling the triumphant 1979-80 tour to Australia, former West Indian pacer Michael Holding said: "I remember the incident with Viv (in Melbourne) when he hit Rodney Hogg into the stands the very next ball he faced after he got hit in the face from a bouncer. That totally deflated him and the Australian team."

Kohli is made of a similar authority. He feeds on challenges -- the harder they are, the greater is his relish. Aggression, by his admission, is in his genes. He was born with it, moulded by it. Many feared it would consume him, but maturity and guidance helped him control it. Earlier, he wanted to beat the best in the world. Now, he’s ready to beat the best in the world. And, as a leader, he wants his team to do the same.

India’s last three overseas Test wins (against West Indies and Sri Lanka) were against struggling sides. As this team travels more, it will face different conditions and tougher opponents.

Before that, India needs to strengthen a few areas if it is to realise its leader’s ambition of world domination. Shikhar Dhawan scores quickly but he should also score consistently. It would be great if Wriddhiman Saha can bat as well as he keeps -- Ravichandran Ashwin can’t be compelled to score and take wickets all the time. The pace attack shouldn’t be satisfied producing sparks of brilliance; it must fire all the time, everywhere. Kohli’s lofty ambition comes with a lot of demands.

But in Antigua, one could see India looking to win all the contests within the contest. Dhawan resisted Shannon Gabriel’s 90 mph short balls on the first morning. Kohli scored quick when the scoreboard (which read 74/2) asked him to slow down. Ashwin wasn’t bothered when his off-breaks were hit for boundaries, for he knew the batsmen's attitude would fetch him wickets. Mohammad Shami hustled the West Indian batsmen along with Umesh Yadav. As Kohli said after the win, it was almost a “complete performance”. The victory will be an impetus for India to go 2-0 up in the series, win it 4-0, and possibly to dominate the world.

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