By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – India captain Virat Kohli is hoping the breakthrough test series triumph in Australia will inspire renewed reverence and passion back home for the longest form of the game.
A draw in the fourth test at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday gave Kohli’s side a 2-1 victory and broke a 71-year cycle of unsuccessful tours Down Under.
Kohli said he hoped it would act as something of a counterbalance to popularity of the shorter, more explosive brands of cricket that have increasingly dominated the Indian game.
“I see this series as a stepping stone for this team to inspire the next lot of test cricketers,” he told reporters.
“To be passionate for test cricket firstly. When Indian cricket respects test cricket we know the fans are going to come in and watch test cricket.
“In a world where a lot of people want the easy stuff, matches that finish in the evening, I think it is important to spread that message of test cricket.
“We definitely want to build on this and always promote the message of test cricket being the most important and the most valued format of the game, which it rightfully is.
“From where I see this is our vision for Indian cricket.”
Few players typify the long-form cricketer more than batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, who has eschewed shorter formats to fine tune his test game and received his reward in Australia with three centuries and 521 runs.
Kohli initially refused to single out any individual performances in the spirit of the team ethic but when he did yield, it was not man of the series Pujara he chose to laud but seamers Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah.
“If your fast bowlers are happy and fighting as a team, you can win anywhere in the world and you have a chance to beat any side in the world anywhere,” he said.
“In the past 12 months I would rate their contribution as far above all the batsmen that have contributed this season.”
Kohli, of course, played his own part in the success with a century in Adelaide and, less skillfully but no less importantly, by winning three of the four tosses.
The lessons learned from series defeats in South Africa and England had laid the groundwork for the success in Australia, he said, and the failures on those tours made this triumph all the sweeter.
So sweet in fact, that for him the triumph Down Under trumped even the 2011 World Cup triumph on home soil that sent his nation into paroxysms of euphoria.
“It is definitely more special purely because of the fact that we have really badly wanted to win a series away from home,” he added.
“So having stuck to our tasks and executed what we wanted and having got the result we, as a team, feel complete.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Amlan Chakraborty)