Virat Kohli, India Test skipper, during the post-match conference of the fifth and the final Test match, laid stress on the fitness of players and said the current crop of cricketers know the importance of fitness to sustain in international cricket.
“Whoever comes to the team he knows there is a certain benchmark for fitness in the team. Of performance. Of mindset. We want players to be match-ready when they join the India team. You shouldn’t be spending a year in international cricket just learning what to do now. You lose a lot of time in that. And many players can’t face that pressure. But if you are prepared, if you are professional, if you know you have to work hard, if you know how to prepare for a game, you have a better chance of performing,” Kohli said.
Kohli had earlier said he wants each and every player to be ready as chances can come at any point of time. Also, with Kohli not possessing a habit of retaining the same squad in consecutive games, players know that they have to be fit and ready both mentally and physically to go into the game.
“Like KL Rahul, Karun Nair. You can see their performance for yourself. Especially Karun. Replacing a batsman like Ajinkya [Rahane], who has been performing consistently in the last two years in Test cricket. To walk in and score a triple-hundred, there couldn’t have been a bigger statement. It shows that the next generation will keep getting smarter looking at others, learning how it is done.” Kohli added.
Kohli’s praise for KL Rahul and Karun Nair is explicable as Rahul had a tough season because of injuries. He played the first Test of the season against New Zealand and then was ruled out due to an injury. He returned to the squad for England series but was injured again. This time, he pounced on the opportunity and scored 199 runs to give a statement that he is the contender for the top-order spot.
Talking of Karun Nair, he had two tough games right at the start but the way he bounced back was simply a treat to watch.
Further showering praise on the triple centurion, Kohli said Nair possesses the quality that is needed at the level. “Karun, I haven’t seen him play too much first-class cricket, I’ve seen him play in the IPL against world-class bowlers. And he’s someone who has always shown character. He could pull the ball well. He used his feet, drive the ball well. At No.3, when the ball is swinging. Spinners, he’s very lethal. I’ve not seen anyone currently in India sweep so well against spinners. He’s just the complete package.
“It’s difficult to find guys like that, which have such character when they are batting and understand their game so well at such a young age. It’s important to back guys like Karun. We’ve always believed. He was always our No.1 choice as a middle-order back-up,” he added.
When asked about two biggest disappointments of the year, Kohli said that the ODI series loss against Australia in the first month of the year and the loss in the semi-final of the T20 World Cup were the two losses that hurt him the most, “As a team we have had a very good 2016 apart from two setbacks that I can point out,” Kohli said. “One would be the ODI series in Australia, and the second one the World T20. We won the Asia Cup, we won the one-day series against New Zealand in India, and we won all the Test series that we played. It’s been a memorable 2016 for the Indian cricket team, and that’s something I am really proud of.
“To be part of such a good year and such a good season, especially with the team in transition, is something we can be really proud of. But this is just the foundation that’s been laid for us to carry on for many years. It’s just the beginning. It’s nothing [compared to what] we want to achieve. It’s not even a tiny bit of that. We understand where we want to go, and hopefully, the guys can keep putting this kind of effort and take the team where it belongs,” he said.