India ruthless under Kohli

Series wins over England in all three formats complete team's transition

India ruthless under Kohli

When India blanked New Zealand 3-0 in the Test series and edged them out 3-2 in the ensuing ODI series last September-October -- the first part of a marathon home season -- it was considered a mere formality. But when England came calling last November, one knew India had to earn it the hard way.

England had won the last three Test series between the two countries, including a 2-1 verdict in 2012-13. A determined India exacted sweet revenge as they vanquished Alastair Cook’s men 4-0, setting the perfect tempo for the shorter version battles. They then outbatted England 2-1 in a high-scoring ODI series before outsmarting Eoin Morgan’s men 2-1 in a hard-fought T20I series to complete a perfect hat-trick.

Right from the opening match of the Test series until the final game in Bengaluru, India had to sweat for their spoils. There were many moments when England appeared to be in total control of the proceedings but India, displaying a new ruthless edge under Virat Kohli, found a way to turn the tide and emerge victorious. Be it accomplished performers, guys coming in as temporary replacements or fresh faces determined to make a name for themselves, India found personnel to deliver the knock-out punch on England in all formats.

“Against teams like England you need more mental preparation than physical work in the gym or practice sessions,” a delighted Kohli, who passed his first full series as a skipper in flying colours, said on Wednesday night. “One thing I think we did really well was to fight fire with fire. We were not willing to take a backward step even after getting a couple of not too big totals in the first two games (of the T20Is). The way we batted was again a revelation. Even after me getting out initially (in the final T20I game), (Suresh) Raina and KL (Rahul) didn't stop their instincts which is needed in T20 cricket. To reveal themselves, to find their characters, players need to play that way. They don't need to think about what's happened. They need to keep thinking and looking ahead. That's exactly what we did this game.

“We got the results we wanted. Obviously winning all three series feels really really good right now because we were up against a top quality side. We understand that and to come on top after the end of all three series is a great feeling altogther knowing that we didn't have that much experience in our teams. The Test team is almost as good as new. Even in the one-day circuit, we have 3-4 experienced guys but rest of the guys who stepped up are all youngsters. Which I think is a massive, massive boost for Indian cricket.”

India have been on a roll ever since Kohli first took charge as the Test captain in 2014 before assuming ODI and T20I leadership at the start of this year and the Delhiite felt the main difference has been team-before-self approach. “It doesn't matter if I'm captain or Mahi bhai (MS Dhoni) was captain before. The talk has always been to take responsibility as individuals. That's the only way the team can become a champion side. And that's one reason why we've bounced back from difficult situations because we have always kept the team's goals in our head before doing anything.

“That's why you see special performances from guys who haven't played so many games. The urge to win games for the team pushes them to limits which they don't otherwise realise about themselves. I think the biggest takeaway which I see from these three series is that youngsters haven't been shy to try anything and they've backed themselves. But the eventual goal has not been personal performances but to win games for Team India. And I think that's been a massive difference, in understanding situations and playing according to the situations.”

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