The longest wait in Indian cricket is over – India secured their first-ever Test series win in Australia after a washout on the final day at Sydney completed a 2-1 victory in the four-match contest.
The emotion of the occasion was evident on skipper Virat Kohli during the post-match presentation ceremony at the SCG. Kohli called the victory his “biggest achievement” while speaking to Isa Guha on the official broadcast, adding that he had “never been more proud to be a part of a team”.
Kohli had begun his tenure as India’s full-time Test captain at the SCG four years ago, a month after having led India for the first time in an interim capacity in the series opener at Adelaide. The Indian skipper’s speech alluded to the completion of a cycle.
"“Firstly, I want to say I’ve never been more proud of being part of a team, than this one right here. The culture we’ve built... our transition began right here, where I took over as captain, and I can’t believe that after four years we’ve won here. Just one word to say, ‘proud’, to lead this team and it’s an honour and privilege. They make the captain look good. Definitely deserve to enjoy this moment.”" - Virat Kohli
The Indian captain admitted to being more over-awed by the emotion of this win in Australia than any other in his glittering career, including the World Cup triumph of 2011.
“By far, this is my biggest achievement. It's at the top of the pile. When we won the 2011 World Cup, I was the youngest member of the side. Saw everyone emotional there, but I didn't feel it. Here, after coming three times, this win means something else. The series win will give us a different identity,” Kohli said.
Kohli heaped heavy praise on his fast-bowling unit, who have been the toast of the cricket world for their exemplary performance through the series.
“The way the bowlers have dictated and dominated, not here but also in England and SA, it's something I haven't seen before. Hats off to them, the way they've prepared, their fitness levels, and their mindset. They discuss how to take wickets, and then they dictate their plans to me. It's a revelation in Indian cricket, and something for the bowlers at home to learn. These guys will be looked up to for a long, long time.”
Among the batsmen, Kohli reserved special words for Cheteshwar Pujara, who was named Man of the Series for his series-leading haul of 521 runs, and newcomer Mayank Agarwal, who scored half-centuries at both Melbourne and Sydney – the first two Tests of his career.
“Special mention to Pujara, he's been outstanding in the series, especially after his last time out in Australia. He's one guy willing to accept things, he works on his game, he's the nicest man around, and we feel happy for him. Special mention to Mayank Agarwal too, he stood up as a champion on Boxing Day. Speaks highly of his mindset. Rishabh as well, coming into his own and dominating attacks," he said.”
‘Stepping Stone for Team India’
Kohli termed this win as a stepping stone for a team which is still young in terms of average age.
"Definitely, this is just the stepping stone for us. The average age in the team is quite low. The most important thing for us have been belief. Our intent has always been good, and that is to take Indian cricket forward. We had that in SA and in England, and when you're working in the right direction then God knows you're honest. We want to do the best for Indian cricket, and this is outstanding, but it's just a stepping stone.
The skipper had words of encouragement for the Australian team which has struggled throughout the series.
"Australia are always going to be competitive. Every team goes through a transition, and their dominance kept world cricket exciting for so many years. I'm sure they'll regroup as a side and play some exciting cricket in the future."
After a hard grind of 19 days of Test cricket, the skipper said that the team deserves to unwind.
"Celebrations are going to run long into the night I can assure you. Now we've got no more Test cricket and no more alarms in the morning. Crowds have been outstanding. They've never let us feel we are playing away from home. They've come in numbers in every stadium," the skipper signed off
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