India must not rest on their laurels after a highly successful home season and must focus on winning abroad, captain Virat Kohli said after their 2-1 series win over Australia yesterday.
The Indian team retained the ICC Test Championship mace and pocketed a $1 mn cash award after cementing their top ranking with a seventh series victory in a row.
India’s eight-wicket win at Dharamsala marked the end of their 13-Test home season, which included 10 wins, two draws and a solitary loss to Australia.
When it was suggested that he could afford a bigger smile, Kohli said; “It’s a classic case of understanding that this is not the end of anything. No need to get over-excited with whatever we have done.
“We are very happy with number one ranking in the world but our main challenge begins now. If we can conquer the overseas season, that’s when you will see a broader smile on my face when I sit down for the press conference.”
Kohli believes he finally has the necessary fast bowling resources for the team to rectify their reputation as poor travellers, beginning with a tour of South Africa later this year.
“Few of the guys have told me that the kind of fast bowling bunch that we have now gives us a good chance to go outside India and put in good performances,” Kohli, who missed the final Test against Australia due to a shoulder injury, said. “I’m certainly very sure and positive about the fact that these guys can deliver away from home.
“The fitness levels have gone up and relentlessness of their bowling and the consistency have improved,” he added.
“I’m sure they will be able to sustain this for longer periods when we go overseas, and not let the game drift away. Pretty excited about what lies ahead for us as a team.”
Often accused of not taking test cricket seriously enough, India announced a bumper home season last year and its importance was not lost on Kohli.
“It’s a very proud moment — playing good cricket all season, especially in the home season, and we dominated all of it,” Kohli said.
“It was very important for a young side to do so and build a team for the future, so that we can give such performances consistently.”
Kohli gave a rather lukewarm response when India briefly topped the rankings after their success in West Indies last year but the India captain is relishing the tag now.
“I wasn’t too excited about it (then) because it was a short-term thing,” the 28-year-old said. “But now I can sit down and be proud of what the guys have been able to achieve since then.
“Not just one or two guys, but everyone has contributed throughout the season. If you don’t have a team performance, you can’t be the number one team in the world. As simple as that.”
Kohli may miss the start of the lucrative Indian Premier League T20 tournament as he races against time to recover from a shoulder injury.
Kohli, the captain of the Royal Challengers Bangalore team, hurt his right shoulder while diving to stop a boundary during the drawn third Test against Australia in Ranchi.
The IPL starts on April 5, with Bangalore playing defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in the tournament opener. Bangalore have made it to three IPL finals but lost each time.
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