CHENNAI: This Indian team, led by Virat Kohli, isn’t the first to look invincible at home. Mohammad Azharuddin’s unit of the 1990s was quite remarkable in home conditions, so was Sourav Ganguly’s team in the early 2000s. MS Dhoni’s side, too, rose to No. 1 in the Test rankings but whenever there’s a discussion about the best Indian side in recent times, it invariably veers towards Ganguly’s devils.
This has a lot to do with that team’s success away from home. They drew Test series in England and Australia and won in Pakistan, a feat none of the other teams have been able to achieve. But Kohli is somebody who likes to challenge limits and he knows that unless his side does well away from the subcontinent, it will never get the recognition it deserves.
On Thursday, Kohli gave the impression that he is going to go all out in the days to come in order to attain the status of being the best in the business.
The perfectionist in Kohli knows his indifferent form in England in 2014 is still a topic of discussion. Rivals will never miss a chance to take a dig. In order to set the record straight, the skipper said that he is ready to go the extra yard and play county cricket before India go to England in 2018. “If I have a chance I would love to be there for a month or a month and-a-half and get used to playing in those conditions, understand how the wickets behave in that particular phase of the year. I think those things matter a lot. Preparation time is something which is very crucial for any side, so yeah, if I have the opportunity to go there a few days before the start that will be great,” Kohli said.
It’s easier said than done. The Indian Premier League ends in the last week of May while the tours to England generally start in the last week of June. That will effectively leave Kohli, who will be invariably drained out after a month-and-ahalf of T20 madness, with a three week window to play county cricket. “But I am thinking about it, trying to work out how I can make it happen. Most definitely, if I have the time I’ll go and play there,” Kohli tried to convince himself that its possible.
The skipper is pragmatic about his team as well. When somebody asked if this team looks invincible, the skipper said: “Not really, we still understand we got to play a lot of cricket everywhere in the world…It looks really good because we have come out of transition and immediately started winning games,” Kohli said.
The recent victory run has made the fans believe that anything is achievable. Kohli, too, possibly believes in that theory, but he knows that it’s not easy to sustain the momentum. The greatest teams – Steve Waugh’s Australia and Clive Lloyd’s West Indies – ruled world cricket for close to a decade and that’s something Kohli has set his sights on. “It’s an ongoing process which needs to be sustained for the next five-seven or eight years for us to become a top quality side and leave a mark on world cricket – may be known as one of the best teams to have assembled on the field. We want to do it across formats and make that mark for Indian cricket on the world stage.”
It’s a steep task, but Kohli’s boys are likely to give it a shot.