India Test captain Virat Kohli, while addressing a press conference for the first time on the tour of South Africa, talked at length about the pace turnaround for the team in Test cricket. He acknowledged the role of pacers in starting India’s good run in overseas conditions in Tests since 2018.
Kohli, under whom the pace-bowling revolution in India’s Test fortunes began, explained in detail how the evolution began. “We all look back at that phase very fondly. It’s hard to believe when I look back at the screenshots of the time that I became the Test captain, we were number seven in the world. I mean, to be fair, we can’t even relate to that reality anymore because we’ve been number one for 4-5 years in a row now.”
Kohli revealed the attributes in creating a formidable pace force of the Indian team. “It’s been the collective commitment, passion and almost a madness of the whole squad. But I had to lay down a vision and path that we needed to follow and probably lead from the front in that regard because I knew that I will have to kind of play with a very high intensity to be able to drive this passion, motivation and environment in the team where we are looking to arrive on the field everyday of a Test match and be optimistic that we can win from any situation because if you don’t have that passion, commitment and that madness to almost just give everything out there in Test cricket, you cannot calculate your way out of situations in Test matches.”
The glowing testimonial of India’s pace powers is such that Kohli admitted to being confused on which pacers to be selected in the playing eleven. “You cannot manage only by strategizing in Test cricket. That passion, commitment and willpower has to come to the surface for you to be a very consistent side and find ways of winning and start enjoying doing the dirty work, as we say in cricket where you are in the worst situation possible. But you are still telling yourself ‘I can find a way here and I can win a game for my team’. Unless you do that, five days is going to be torture on the field.”
“One day and T20 cricket is very different. I think this is the kind of intent we needed in Test cricket. To realise, today we have a group of fast bowlers where we’re so confused over who to play. I couldn’t be happier sitting in this position because I know that Indian cricket has benefited immensely from that. I have fulfilled my responsibility over getting to a place where people have started to think about our bowling line-up before they consider the conditions.”
Kohli concluded by saying the pacers deserve all credit for becoming world-class fast-bowlers in Test cricket. “So, for our team, this is such a fact of confidence boosting and something we take a lot of pride in today. But it is also about understanding that hard work by the group of bowlers. I always say that Indian cricket, especially Test cricket, is where it is because of the way our fast bowlers have rallied around in the last few years and the strength they have brought to the squad. Otherwise, this dream and vision would not have come to life for sure.”