The Kohli-era in Indian Test cricket will go down in history as one of the most glorious as he won every series that he captained at home and went on to achieve several fine victories away from home, including a maiden series triumph in Australia.
Virat Kohli will play his 100th Test match on Friday when he takes the field against Sri Lanka in Mohali. He will be the 12th Indian and 71st cricketer to reach the milestone, which is a marker of a player’s quality and longevity. Kohli is on the cusp of completing 8000 runs in Test cricket too. This will be his first Test as a player since 2014, as he stepped down from India’s Test captaincy after the series in South Africa. In the interim he became India’s most successful Test captain in terms of victories and win percentage. The Kohli-era in Indian Test cricket will go down in history as one of the most glorious, as he won every series that he captained at home and went on to achieve several fine victories away from home, including a maiden series triumph in Australia.
He spoke about his journey in an interview with the BCCI. Here is the full transcript of the interview:
“I honestly never thought that I will play 100 Test matches. It has been a long journey, played a lot of cricket over the course of these 100 Test matches. So, just grateful that I have been able to make it to 100. As I said, knowing the amount of cricket that is played in today’s day and age. God has been kind, I have worked really hard on my fitness.
“It’s a big moment for me, my family and my coach, who is also very happy and proud about this Test match as far as I am concerned. It’s a very very special moment for me.
“I think my first Test match hundred is something that I remember very fondly and it’s very fresh in my memory still. That is one day that will always be special to me and the fact that it came in Australia made it much more special. It was an overseas hundred for a young guy wanting to establish himself in Test cricket and for that first hundred to come in Australia was something that really boosted my confidence.
“If you see my career really took off after that Test match. My confidence just grew leaps and bounds.
“The way people look at Test cricket being played under me as the Indian team (captain) or just the way I went about playing Test cricket and how I thought and wanted to play Test cricket, it hasn’t happened by chance. I have put in a lot of effort. I have made sure that my core moral values when it comes to the game of cricket remain intact. Which is wanting to play Test cricket, wanting the purest form of the game to stay alive and for that we needed to play in a certain manner and I have given my heart and soul to this format, I can say that.
“It feels great that I was able to contribute to my environment and to my culture in bigger ways than just strategies and plans and trying to get batsmen out or trying to maneuver bowlers. If you have a bigger impact on your environment, it is really something to feel blessed about because this opportunity comes very rarely to people and I was blessed with this opportunity.
“I have had the privilege and the opportunity to create a culture which I think I have set as a leader over the last few years and I have done my job to the best of my abilities and I have fulfilled my responsibilities. I look back very proudly on that period.
“I have played with some amazing teammates. Some of the guys who have shared this journey with me for most number of Test matches. And I clearly remember when I took over Test captaincy, I had this vision for the team that we need to play a certain kind of cricket and we need to be a certain kind of team in international cricket and we ended up achieving those five years in a row. Just immensely proud. The environment was something magical. You just entered the change room and you knew you could win anywhere. That feeling was so empowering. You went to any tour without any baggage, without any nervousness, without any hesitation and it was just like an opportunity after an opportunity. When I sat in the change room and looked around, I felt I have been able to fulfill my responsibility. That’s the feeling that I got.
“From 2015 to 2019, the kind of Test cricket we played. Each one of those tours and games is a special memory in itself. We have had some tough losses and amazing comebacks, immensely proud of the whole phase. I can’t just pinpoint one memory. It will be wrong for me to point out series win in Australia, or coming out of England 2-1, potentially getting the trophy back with us.
“For us we understand those moments on a daily basis. I love playing this game, I am still passionate to win a lot of games for my country. That was my prime motivation when I started playing this game that I want to play for India and win matches for my team. That was my single-minded motivation and I continue to be in that space. All this chat about numbers and stats, it is just a fantasy for people on the outside. I never really focussed on these things and if I did I wouldn’t have scored the runs or reached the milestones that I have.
“Your intent has to be right and my intent continues to be in the same place. I want to win as many matches as I can for India.
‘Anushka has been a huge influence in my life. Eventually the influence in your life filters down to the game as well because your game is part of life. I have become a completely changed man for all the right reasons, I have evolved in the right way. I am very grateful and thankful to God to have a life-partner like her. She has been an absolute pillar of strength for me. I started evolving when Anushka came into my life and vice versa, we have both helped each other grow.
‘I wouldn’t have been able to go on with so much composure and passion and zeal if it wasn’t for her in my life.
‘If feels surreal, I never thought I will play 100 Test matches for India. That was a time when I told myself that I will do anything possible to be able to play for India. Nothing could demotivate me or distract me anymore. I was completely focussed on getting to the top and wanted to play for a long time. But I never knew I would play 100 Test matches but things unfolded in a way that the journey kept on going.
‘Life is unpredictable in beautiful ways and I don’t think we should put any restrictions on life in terms of how many amazing things you can witness in the future. You have no idea what the future holds so it’s best not to panic and not get demotivated by what might not happen. My career and my life is an example of anything is possible.
“I hear the crowds have been allowed so I think it will be a special morning. There will be some butterflies. Those will be there till you play the last game for India. When they are gone you know it is time.”