Kohli credits 'team culture' for phase of success

The seeds of India's current phase of success were sown in its tour of Sri Lanka two years ago, Virat Kohli said ahead of another tour of the island nation.

Virat Kohli speaks at a press conference in Mumbai ahead of India's departure for Sri Lanka.   -  PTI

India's current successful run in Tests began with the Sri Lanka tour of 2015, Virat Kohli pointed out ahead of another tour of the island nation. The series was significant for the creation of a "team culture" that helped India develop an uncompromising outlook to win Test series overseas, Kohli said. India won the series 2-1 despite a demoralising loss to the host in the first Test in Galle.

He explained: "I think that tour (of Sri Lanka in 2015) for us was a landmark tour. 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.

READ: Shastri: 'I matured immensely in the last two weeks'

"We do have a culture that’s been created in the team to win whatever Test matches, Test series we play. Losing the first Test (at Galle) 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 - showed more belief in their abilities to 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."

Appearing to be quite smug with developments post Anil Kumble’s exit as head coach and Shastri's return to the helm, Kohli said: "We have worked together for three years from 2014 to16. So there should be that kind of understanding [between us]...that you can also understand. So I don’t think that I need to understand anything new about [the coaching and support  staff] in this scenario. We had worked earlier also and so we know  what’s expected. So I don’t think there is [a need of] any effort to understand as we have worked earlier also."

Kohli’s response was to CAC member Sourav Ganguly’s observation on July 10; he had said Kohli needs to understand different coaches work in different ways and they have their own style.

'No added pressure'

Kohli’s individual scores in the four-Test series against Australia (0, 13, 12, 15, 6) reflected a deviation from the form he had showed in the rest of the season. He hit five centuries, including four doubles and came up with a number of good scores, but he was outwitted by the Australian bowlers. He denied he was under any pressure, in particular with the controversy surrounding Kumble’s exit.

"I don’t think there is added pressure because what has to happen will happen; I believe in that regardless of what happens around in the outside world. As a team we aspire to achieve what we want to achieve. Everyone of us faced have hardships in the past, criticism and being criticised is nothing new, we understand that aspect playing the sport. I certainly don’t take any added pressure because the responsibility has been given to me. I only started off as a player, wanted to do the  best for the team. I continue to take up that responsibility, and will continue to do so in the future years till the time I am captain or I am kept at this position. So that’s what I see of it, you only have to look at the series ahead; if you focus on all these external factors, it is similar to going out to bat thinking, what if I get out. It can happen in any scenario and so you need to take care of your mindset and move forward."

Kohli eventually hinted at what may not have existed until the ICC Champions Trophy.

"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 is 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 experience of relationships somewhere or the other in their life and the same rules applies here. It is as simple as that, co-ordination and communication."

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