A couple of years back, Virat Kohli toured to Sri Lanka for the first time as a full-time Test captain. Having lost the first Test of that series, India made a strong comeback and win the three-match series 2-1.

Talking about the transition phase which began after the retirements of former Indian legends, Virat said, “Transition, initially, can take a few months, but after that, it is mentally how much you are ready to be at that level that counts. If a guy has played 100 matches against a guy who has played 10 games, has more belief than you, he is going to end up doing well on the field. This is a game which rewards the brave and the one who is willing to put the hard yards. That is something we have respected as a team and worked towards.”

Team India

One of the crucial factors that serve as a proof of India’s dominance in Tests, is the problem of plenty. Talking about the same, Kohli said, “Guys have started looking at these scenarios as opportunities rather than looking at it as a pressure scenario because now they feel privileged and they want to have the opportunity to play for the country and everyone wants to make a mark, not just sit on the sidelines and watch other people just go on with their business. So I am sure these guys are hungry.”

Kohli praised Indian opener Murali Vijay for being honest about the injury and willingly backing out. He said, “Every player comes into the team wanting to perform and wanting to do well. Injuries are an unfortunate part of the sport, any sport in the world. Vijay was back with his rehab, he was playing a game but he felt like he wasn’t up there and it’s a credit to him for conveying that to the selectors and being honest in telling us that he won’t be able to be match-fit because there is a lot riding on a Test match. That’s the kind of culture that has been created in the last few years, that people are honest and they take ownership, as I just mentioned.”

India’s head coach Ravi Shastri also restated the views of the skipper, he said, “You got to respect the (Sri Lankan) team. If you look at their track record at home, it is as good as any side in world cricket, if not right up with the best. As an Indian team, we are not going to take them lightly, we are not going to take things for granted. We’d like to [be] consistent so that we can keep that No. 1 position in place, and above all, we will look to improve. Because if you don’t look to improve, there is no point playing. You have got to try and raise the bar in every series you play, that must be the endeavor.”

Kohli has been pretty successful against Sri Lanka, but he doesn’t want to read too much into his past success against Sri Lanka. He said, “There was a time when we were playing Sri Lanka two times a year, I didn’t have any option but to keep playing those games. I remember playing a lot of games against them and coincidentally after that, there have been a few games where I have scored well and it has come against Sri Lanka.”

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He further elaborated, “At that time, due to the familiarity, that was a factor as well that we knew the strengths and weaknesses of each other. It was easier to prepare against a team that you were playing fairly regularly at that stage. I don’t think their team changed much at that stage. They were a strong side at that time, the batting and bowling, but it didn’t change that much, so it was a bit easier to prepare for the bowlers that we were going to face.”

Virat concluded by talking about their intent for the upcoming series, he said, “To be really honest, we played mostly in conditions that were batting-friendly, so I would not like to take a lot of credit for the runs being scored because they were all high-scoring games and all the batsmen had equal opportunities to do well.”

By Nilabh