India captain Virat Kohli believes every game they play in the ICC Test Championship will be crucial, and has stated that there will be no let up from the team.
Fresh from securing a series victory over South Africa with a game to spare, Virat Kohli is not planning to ease off in the third Test. He told Star Sports after the match: "It's been nice, but looking at the larger picture, the Test Championship, every game has even more value. We're not going to take the foot off the gas in the third Test, we're looking for a result again, and hopefully make it 3-0. Because these points are important, we understand that, with the Test Championship it's going to be very crucial, at all the stages, when we play away from home as well. And no one's going to relax at any stage, that's a guarantee."
Kohli played a big role in the innings defeat of South Africa in Pune. The partnership between Ajinkya Rahane and him was vital, particularly in seeing off the threat posed by Vernon Philander and Kagiso Rabada on the second morning. "You have to look forward to those sort of sessions. You have to look forward to playing against the new ball in the morning," he said.
The skipper was also glowing in his praise of Rahane's batting, saying how much he enjoys batting with the Indian No.5: "We really enjoy coming up against world-class bowlers, and really contributing for the team in those situations, where it's tough. We take a lot of pride in that. I think having him at the other end really keeps me focused as well, because he keeps giving me regular feedback if I'm doing something wrong. And vice versa for him as well."
His team are now ranked No.1 in the MRF Tyres ICC Men's Test Team Rankings, but it has not been an easy journey to the top. When Kohli took over as captain India were slumbering in seventh. He credits a change of attitude for the turnaround.
"The good thing is when we started out as a group, we were at No.7, and the only way was up. We laid down a few things saying that if you want to take Indian cricket forward, these are the things expected of each one of us; work hard every day at practice, don't come here and waste your time, contribute even at practice sessions, have a purposeful practice session and slowly those things will come into results. We are all lucky to have the group of players that we have, to be honest."
Kohli also credits a change of attitude for the progress in his own game as well. He has now scored seven double hundreds in his last 40 Tests, having scored none before that, the latest of which (254*) is the biggest of them all.
"Everyone goes through a natural process of wanting to prove a point - to yourself, initially in your career - and then maybe you are not that mature to handle the things that happen on the outside. So sometimes you're playing and you're trying to prove people wrong, and those kinds of things come out. I think I am at a stage in my career where I'm just happy to be playing the way I am and contributing for my team. I think it's been a natural progress for me to have a more calm mindset over the years, because you feel more secure as a player, about where you stand in your own environment, and your own game as well."
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