Series victory in Sri Lanka in 2015 Helped India Scale To Numero Uno Status: Virat Kohli
Sri Lanka interim coach Nic Pothas said that changing the culture of the team will be fruitful in riding out the rebuilding phase which the Sri Lanka team is currently in. India was in a similar sort of a situation around 2 and a half years ago when they were languishing at No 7 in the ICC Test Rankings during their rebuilding phase and rose to the numero uno status within two years.
Pothas has been given the job to coach the team till a permanent appointment is finalised. Graham Ford resigned from his post following Sri Lanka’s disappointing performance in the Champions Trophy especially in the must win clash against Pakistan where they lost from a winning position.
“I think we’re probably in the same situation that (the) Indian Team (were) were few years ago. We’re in the rebuilding phase. In that first (Zimbabwe) series it was more about getting to know about the players, but most importantly the words being mentioned already – the culture, trying to change the culture, ownership, attention to detail, intensity at practice and overall improvement. So, if you use those as your cornerstones, which we will, we’ll certainly see some improvements in a very short period of time,” Pothas said.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka’s limited overs skipper Upul Tharanga conceded that it will bne a great opportunity for the Sri Lankan players to test their skills against the No.1 ranked side which will be a good barometer to measure their development. Sri Lanka chased down a record 388 against Zimbabwe recently to win the one off Test between the two nations.
“I think Zimbabwe played well throughout the tour and it took a lot of effort to beat them. Chasing that record target in the second innings has really boosted our confidence,” Tharanga said.
“India are the number one ranked team in the world and when you play the number one ranked team, we know, as a team, what we have to do. What we have to look at now is how we can go forward and how we can beat our next opponent. We have to keep the trust the players gave in the team. We beat the number one ranked team (Australia) the last time, and I think playing the (current) number one team is a good opportunity for us to show where we are in our development,” he further added.
Kohli identified India’s 2-1 series win against Sri Lanka in 2015 as the defining series which helped India rise to the No.1 position in the next year or so. India failed to chase down a paltry 176 in the first Test and was bowled out for 112 but the visitors came back strongly to beat the hosts in the next two Tests to take the series 2-1. It was India’s first Test series victory in Sri Lanka since 1993 when India won 1-0 under Mohammad Azharuddin.
“We still remember the tour of Australia was in 2014 and 2015 that we found ourselves number seven in the world and from then on the transformation started and I think this particular series in Sri Lanka is what gave us belief after being 0-1 down in the series. The victories were hard fought but what it taught us was to come together and come closer as a team and understand our strengths and weaknesses and define the roles that we play in Test cricket and take the team higher in the rankings and within 12 or 14 months from Australia we were already in the number one side in the world. We just touched it. But from then on we’ve solidified it,” Kohli said.
“But everyone in the team knows and believes that this is where it all started for us. After losing that Test in Galle, a dent for us mentally, and how the team came back from that was iconic. We definitely don’t take any opponent lightly. We pay equal respect to any opposition because you can be a strong and a weak side, but you still have to play the same game. You have to earn your wins. I firmly believe if you want to win a series in any part of the world you have to play good cricket, which we are ready to do,” Kohli signed off.
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