Kohli stresses on long-term goals ahead of fifth Test

Speaking to the media ahead of the fifth Test match, Indian captain Virat Kohli stopped short of calling his team invincible, but did admit ‘it looks really good’ with so many victories, including the last three against England.

"It’s an ongoing process that needs to be sustained for the next 5-7-8 years for us to become a top quality side and have a mark on world cricket, maybe to be known as one of the best teams to be assembled on the field," said Kohli, about the current Indian team's chances of being one of the world's best.   -  K. Pichumani

India’s captain Virat Kohli continued to impress upon the ‘process’ and ‘culture’ that the team revels in, and completely dismissed any obsession with a 4-0 score-line, ahead of his team’s fifth Test against England in Chennai.

Kohli stopped short of calling his team invincible, but did admit ‘it looks really good’ with so many victories, including the last three against a quality England side at home. But rather than short-term goals, he suggested his team aimed to become ‘a top quality side and have a mark on world cricket’.

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“We still understand there’s a lot of cricket to be playing everywhere in the world. It looks really good because we’ve come out of transition and have started winning games. It’s an ongoing process that needs to be sustained for the next 5-7-8 years for us to become a top quality side and have a mark on world cricket, maybe to be known as one of the best teams to be assembled on the field. We want to do it across formats and make that mark for Indian cricket. It requires a lot of persistence and skill, a lot of hard work, fitness, and a whole (bunch of) other key factors which will decide where we go as a unit and as a team,” Kohli said.

One of the key elements of India’s success in the ongoing series is the significant contributions with the bat by the lower order. Kohli praised all of the lower-order batsmen and said it allowed him the freedom to play only five batsmen.

“(The spinners’) contributions with the bat have been outstanding. It hasn’t taken me much to motivate them. (Ravichandran) Ashwin has set a benchmark for the others; (Ravindra) Jadeja has also come of age with the bat. Jayant (Yadav) has been a keen learner, and he works a lot on his batting as well. All the fast bowlers, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav have become so much better with the bat, and they understand the importance of those runs. So, as a captain, it gives me more freedom to play five batsmen. The bowlers contribute 120-130 runs; that’s as good as playing another batsman. I give credit to them for working hard and giving the team that extra option,” Kohli said.

He singled out Jayant for particular praise as his contributions as a third spinner enabled India to have three probing bowlers pegging away at England’s batting.

“Jayant knows the game very well; he knows his bowling very well. He has great control, and he rushes the batsman. I think Graeme Swann was a similar bowler, he was magnificent without giving the ball too much air, and that’s why he was so successful. That’s what I see with Jayant as well. I can bring him into the game at any stage. He’s a great addition to Team India,” Kohli said.

With the general theme of success in the series, India is favourite to win the fifth Test as well, but Kohli instead suggested that the focus was on the bigger picture.

“We just take one game at a time, we’re looking at a collective series. We’re not looking at a scoreline as such. We just want to continue what we have been doing, It akes a lot of hard work to win a Test match. To put a number to it before, I think, would be unfair to the players and the series as well,” he said.

In a similar vein, he also dismissed any focus on individual rankings, when pointed out his rise in Test rankings to No. 2 and the comparisons with Steve Smith, Kane Williamson and Joe Root as one of the leading batsmen in world cricket. “I have totally removed myself from these things,” he said.