Staring down yet another away series defeat in Sri Lanka, new India captain Virat Kohli knew something needed to be done if his side were to turn the tide after first Test defeat in Galle.
For a young team playing bold, aggressive cricket, it was a pivotal moment.
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The team had not won in Sri Lanka since 1993 and had gone four years without an away series victory.
But this was Kohli’s Indian team. One that fights on the front foot in a win at all costs mentality.
Kohli himself scored a century on the second day of the opening Test, but the skipper could not save his side from collapsing to a 63-run defeat when victory seemed in their grasp.
The loss threatened to resign India to yet another defeat on foreign soil but Kohli brought the team together in their hour of need, uniting them hrough honest appraisal and bonding.
“It’s very easy to say to stick together in good and bad times but we hardly execute that,” Kohli told Sport360 in Dubai at the launch of the IPTL’s second season, which sees the 26-year-old take up he role of co-owner of the UAE Royals.
“I think the one good thing that happened was everyone talked about what happened in the [first Test] there and then, the moment we lost. We sat in the changing room and talked about what went wrong and people put their hands up saying ‘I could have done this better, I could have done that better’.
“There was honesty going around through the changing room and a lot of communication. And then we decided to stick together as a team from that defeat and spent some time together as a team that evening.”
Whatever Kohli did, it worked. The Indians went on to seal victory with two resounding victories, with Kohli shaping his young charges in his own mould.
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) September 10, 2015
One word that follows Kohli when people assess his style as player and captain is “attack” and it is an approach he hopes pays dividends for his team in the future, now that they have the monkey off their back.
“It was massive because we’ve been going through a transition for a while,” Kohli explains.
“Winning is always something that motivates the team and boosts their confidence and I think from that perspective it’s very important for the team to have a series win, not just one odd Test match.
“It gives you the belief that you can win series and we can win series against any team anywhere in the world and I think that belief is very important.”
Next up for India is another series for which history is not on their side. They face South Africa in their first home series in over a year – a nation over which they have not claimed a Test series win since 2004.
Kohli’s approach will not change as he hopes to instil belief and a winning habit back into the Indian team.
“We must prepare for every opposition the same way and give every opposition the same kind of respect that they deserve,” he added.
“There is no need to differentiate any team from any other team, we’d like to prepare the same way and give them the same kind of respect.”
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