Following his marathon century against Australia in the fourth Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in Ahmedabad, star India batter Virat Kohli admitted that not being able to get a big score for his team bothered him to some extent and he will head into the ICC World Test Championship final against Australia in a relaxed state of mind.
Half-centuries from Travis Head and Marnus Labuschagne helped Australia draw the fourth and final Test of the ongoing Border-Gavaskar Trophy against India at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday.
India has qualified for the final of the ICC World Championship, where they will take on Australia at The Oval in London from June 7 onwards. They qualified for the WTC final after New Zealand defeated Sri Lanka in the first Test at Christchurch. NZ winning or drawing at least one of two Tests of the series would have helped India reach the final irrespective of the Ahmedabad Test result.
Virat Kohli brought an end to his century drought in Test cricket, scoring his 75th international century and his 28th in Tests. This was his first century in Tests since November 2019. In his marathon effort, he scored 186 runs in 364 balls, consisting of 15 fours.
"I had let complications grow on me a bit because of my shortcomings. The desperation to get that three figure mark can grow on you as a batter and I let that happen to me to some extent. I am not the guy who is happy with 40-45 runs, when I know I can get 150 and help my team. This was eating me up for a while. Not being able to get a big score for the team bothered me as I have always taken pride in performing in different conditions and situations whenever the team needed me. It was never about milestones. A hundred is something that just happens along the way in my goal of batting as much as long for my team and scoring as much as possible," said Virat in a video posted by BCCI, featuring Team India head coach Rahul Dravid.
"To be able to do that (score a hundred and perform well for team) gives you immense satisfaction. I will head into the WTC final relaxed," Virat concluded his point.
Head coach Rahul Dravid also admitted that he was desperate to see Virat score a Test century with him as a head coach so that he could get to enjoy it from the dressing room. Dravid also asked Virat to talk about how he approached his innings.
Virat said that he knew he was playing well in the series and the wicket was good to bat on. Though Australia utilised some help on the surface well, he trusted his defence, which he called his "strongest point."
"As far as approaching this inning is concerned, I knew I was playing well, even in the Test matches before this one. It was a good wicket to bat on. The Australians utilised whatever little help was in the surface really well. I had to trust my defence and be patient. This is the template with which I have played always in Test. My defence is my strongest point. When I defend well, I know I can cash in whenever there is a lose ball to hit and get runs," said Virat.
"Boundaries were not easy to come by. Outfield was slow and the ball was soft. Something that calmed me down was that I was happy to run ones and twos and score my hundred. I can bat four, five sessions here. That is where fitness and physical preparations comes into play for me. I come out relaxed because I know I can bat in many ways. I am not desperate for fast runs. I am happy scoring 30 runs hitting in a session and not hit boundaries. I am fine with batting six sessions and getting a 150. I know boundaries will come eventually," added the batter.
Virat said that it is not possible to play the same way all the time because one needs to adjust as per conditions.
"This is one of the main reasons why I have been able to play all the formats of the game for so long. The adaptability comes from knowing physically I can do things in different ways. Mentally, I can prepare to play in a certain way. But I if my body would not support it, I would be found out," said Virat.
"I have been able to different situations and conditions as I was able to run ones and twos and do power hitting as well. For that you need all-round fitness, which does not happen over a period of two to three months," concluded Virat.
With this, India has won the four-match Test series by 2-1.
Australia started the final day of the match at 3/0, with Matt Kuhnemann (0*) and Travis Head (3*) unbeaten. They had the responsibility to overcome the 88-run lead that India had in the match.
After Ravichandran Ashwin trapped Kuhnemann early for just 6, Head joined forces with number one Test batter Marnus Labuschagne to give Australia the lead.
The duo put on a 139-run stand for the second wicket before Axar removed Head for 90. Labuschagne scored an unbeaten 63 and along with stand-in captain Steve Smith (10*), helped the side draw the match and end their innings at 175/2.
Earlier, India gained a 91-run lead over Australia after they were bundled out for 571 in their first innings.
Virat Kohli brought an end to his century drought in Test cricket. In his marathon effort, he scored 186 runs in 364 balls, consisting of 15 fours.
Shubman Gill also scored a century, smashing 128 runs in 235 balls. Axar (79), KS Bharat (44) and Cheteshwar Pujara (42) also played some important knocks, which helped India gain a lead over Australia. Todd Murphy (3/113) and Nathan Lyon (3/151) were the pick of the bowlers for Australia. Mitchell Starc and Matt Kuhnemann got a wicket each. lead over Australia.
In their first innings, Australia posted 480 runs. Usman Khawaja (180) and Cameron Green (114) posted stunning centuries to help the Aussies gain a massive advantage earlier in the match.
Ravichandran Ashwin was the pick of the bowlers, taking 6/91 on a surface offering no help to spinners.
Virat Kohli was adjudged as the 'Man of the Match' for his knock of 186 runs.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, India's star spin all-rounder duo were given the 'Men of the Series' award for their heroics throughout the series.
Ashwin ended as the top wicket-taker in the series with 25 wickets, with the best bowling figures of 6/91. He also scored useful 86 runs in five innings throughout the series with the best score of 37.
Jadeja also emerged as the second-highest wicket-taker in the series, with a total of 22 scalps and best figures of 7/42. He also scored 135 runs in five innings with one half-century and the best score of 70.
Brief Scores: India 571 (Virat Kohli 186, Shubman Gill 128, Todd Murphy 3/113) vs Australia 480 and 175/2 (Travis Head 90, Marnus Labuschagne 63*, Axar Patel 1/36). (ANI)