The 2015 Sri Lanka tour is deeply entrenched in Virat Kohli's memory. It doesn't take an Einstein to decipher the reason. He's spoken about the importance of that tour time and again, especially that Galle Test where India suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Sri Lanka. That loss impacted the team and especially Kohli's captaincy in a big way.
It hurt the team badly, especially since they were in a dominant position for most part of that Test. However, it was also a huge learning curve. Now, as India get ready to embark upon another tour of the Island, Kohli says India will go with the same mindset and lesson that helped them bounce back and win the series two years ago.
"I think that (2015 Sri Lanka tour) was a landmark tour,"Kohli said in the pre-departure press conference in Mumbai.
"The mindset was to try and win the series. Losing the first Test was a shock to us but the way we bounced back was only because of the team culture created at that stage. We showed more belief in our abilities and that we could win from any situation and from then on you could see the results that we have had so far. The same mindset would apply now what we started back in 2015," Kohli added.
Not just the series, that win instilled the much-needed belief that India could win away from home, something which wasn't synonymous with the side a few years ago. Prior to the series, India had gone winless in seven overseas series which included six series losses.
"The players have matured from then on (2015 Sri Lanka tour). It’s been 24 months, but that tour was the start of the belief system that we can win away from home," Kohli said. We do have the side required to win away from home, we do have a culture that has been created in the team to win whatever test matches or series we play," the Indian captain added.
That tour was a fresh challenge for Kohli. The Galle Test was just his fourth as captain and he was in Sri Lanka for his first full Test series as the skipper. With excitement, comes pressure, but Kohli hit back hard to win the series and then started the juggernaut of six Test series win in a row, five of them at home. Starting with the Sri Lanka series, India are set for a string of away series which will see them lock horns with South Africa, England and Australia in the next one year. Unlike last time, Kohli will be under different kind of pressure, especially after the much-publicised captain-coach spat which saw Anil Kumble not seek renewal of his contract for the post of head coach. And also considering that he has now been given his preferred support staff.
However, Kohli, as always, has shut himself off from the outside world and seems unfazed.
"I don't think there is any added pressure. What has to happen will happen, I believe in that. As a team we aspire to achieve what we want to achieve. Being criticised is nothing new – we understand that aspect of playing the sport as well. I certainly don't take any added pressure because the responsibility has been given to me. I only started off as a player and wanted to do my best for the team and I continue to take up that responsibility, will continue to do so in the future years till the time I am captain or I am kept at this position, so that’s what I see of it, you only have to look at the series ahead of you. It is very similar going out for batting thinking what if I get out. It can happen in any scenario, you need to take care of your mindset and move forward.
"I only have the bat in hand and my job is to go out there and control what's been done on the field," Kohli said. "That's something that I have focused on in the last couple of months and I continue to do so. Lot of speculation and things fly around – those things are not in my control. My job is to go out on the field and try to bring the best out of this team along with the management and try to perform to the best of my abilities which I believe in," the Indian captain added.
As the ugly coach-captain fiasco played out in front of the world, former India captain and Cricket Advisory Committee (CAC) member Sourav Ganguly sent out a blunt message saying Kohli would need to understand how coaches operated. The India captain, however, had a different opinion having worked with Ravi Shastri for two years.
"We have worked together for three years – 2014-16. So there should be that kind of understanding (between us), which you can also understand," Kohli said when asked whether he would be able to understand the coach and coaching style much better given that he had been given his preferred support staff. "So I don’t think that I need to understand anything new about (coach and support staff) in this scenario. As I have already said, we have worked earlier also, we know what’s expected, what’s going on and what has worked earlier for us. So I don’t think it will require any effort to understand (the coach) as we have worked earlier also," the 28-year-old added.
Kohli also stressed on the importance of understanding and communication with the support staff which have been seemingly missing after reports had surfaced that Kohli and Kumble had stopped talking to each other after the England series in December last year.
"I think understanding and communication is something that works in every walk of life, so changing room environment is nothing different. You need to have all those aspects for any relationships to work in life. It’s not just confined to cricket," Kohli said.
"(We) follow the same rules of life that are followed everywhere else. So I don’t see anything different that can be elaborated on this. Everyone has gone through experience of relationships, somewhere or the other in life, the same rules applies here, you know it is as simple as that," Kohli signed off.
Updated Date: Jul 19, 2017 20:17:02 IST