“When we started our plans to come back on track in Test cricket, what we asked the guys was ‘how much belief do you have?’ If a guy has played 100 matches against a guy who has played 10 games, has more belief than you, he is going to end up doing well on the field. This is a game which rewards the brave and the one who is willing to put the hard yards. That is something we have respected as a team and worked towards.”
One of the key factors that serves as a testimony to India’s dominance in Tests, is the problem of plenty. While several good players find themselves on the bench, in case of injuries, there is always a ready replacement for every position in the team. Kohli admits that it is a good position to be in for the team.
“Guys have started looking at these scenarios as opportunities rather than looking at it as a pressure scenario because now they feel privileged and they want to have the opportunity to play for the country and everyone wants to make a mark, not just sit on the sidelines and watch other people just go on with their business. So I am sure these guys are hungry.”
Kohli praised Vijay for being honest about the injury and willingly backing out. “Every player comes into the team wanting to perform and wanting to do well,” he said. “Injuries are an unfortunate part of sport, any sport in the world. Vijay was back with his rehab, he was playing a game but he felt like he wasn’t up there and it’s credit to him for conveying that to the selectors and being honest in telling us that he won’t be able to be match-fit because there is a lot riding on a Test match.
“That’s the kind of culture that has been created in the last few years, that people are honest and they take ownership, as I just mentioned.”
Kohli is aware that even as Sri Lanka are struggling through the transition phase, best showcased by how Zimbabwe managed to stretch them recently in the one-off Test, touring sides have often struggled in Sri Lanka. Even while India are the No. 1 side currently, they know how difficult it was for the No. 1 side Australia last year when they were blanked 3-0.