Facing criticism for his devil-may-care attitude and not putting a heavy price on his wicket in Australia series and in the first Test against England in Chennai, Rohit Sharma’s knock of 161 in the second Test emerged as the defining moment.

India skipper Virat Kohli reserved ultimate praise for the knock that pushed the momentum in India’s favour. The hosts never looked back from there.

“Rohit’s knock in second Test was the most defining moment in us coming back in the series. Getting 160 on that pitch was as good as getting 250 on any good batting wicket and it got us into the contest. That gave us the momentum we needed. Throughout the series, he got important knocks and partnerships which is unnoticed when you don’t get those three figures,” Kohli said after the match.

Kohli said the India’s comeback in the second Test from where they won the series 3-1 made him most happy.

“I think the comeback [in the second Test] pleased me the most. The first game was a bit of an aberration the way we played as a team. England outplayed us. The toss played very crucial role and I don’t think the bowlers were in the contest at all. Next game, we came back. We bowled and fielded in the second innings with intent.”

Kohli said the youngsters’ performances have been very good and the bench strength has been good.

“The idea has been for youngsters to come and perform with fearlessness. It is up to the individuals as well to perform and take on like Rishabh and Washy [Washington Sundar] and then Washy with Axar, the game-changing partnerships they had. These are kind of situations where individuals stand up and say, okay, I am going to make a mark and be that player who can make a name for himself,” he said.

The India skipper, who became India’s most successful captain at home, said that India bounced back from complacency and realised that things can’t be taken lightly even at home.

“Just like you have to work hard to win away from home, you have to work hard to win at home as well, because every team at international level is a quality side and we need to be at our A game to be able to beat them,” he said.

Kohli also praised off-spinner R Ashwin for his consistency.

“Ashwin has been a banker for us in the past seven-eight years in Test cricket. His numbers speak of volumes of what he has done in the past few years,” he said.

India will now play the World Test Championship (WTC) final against New Zealand in June. While Kohli had earlier said that he doesn’t care about the WTC final since it is more of a distraction, he says that now is the time to begin focusing on it.

“Now, we can accept and admit that we are in the WTC final. It was more of a distraction till now for us. We are a side that is committed to playing Test cricket. These extra things can be a distraction. It did become a bit of a distraction for us in New Zealand, but from then on it was one game at a time and now we are in the final,” he said.

The final will be played in June, and the ICC is expected to announce the venue next week.

–IANS

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