Virat Kohli is ready for his 100th Test when India take on Sri Lanka in the series opener in Mohali and the former captain said his main focus is on winning games for his nation. Kohli said he has given his heart and soul to the sport and still gets butterflies in his stomach before every game.
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Kohli scored a memorable 4 and 15 points in his Test debut against the West Indies at Sabina Park in 2011 and has come a long way in a decade-long journey that has seen him complete 7962 runs for a stellar 50.39 average in the longest format .
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“Life is unpredictable in many beautiful ways and I don’t think we should put any limitations on life when it comes to how many amazing moments one can have in the future,” Kohli said in an interview with BCCI.tv the night before the big game.
“You have no idea what the future holds. So it’s best not to panic or get demotivated by what might not happen because my career and life is an example that anything is possible.”
Fans up to 50 percent of the stadium’s capacity will be on site from Friday and Kohli said it would be special.
“I heard crowds are allowed too. It’s going to be a special morning. I mean I wouldn’t lie. There will be some butterflies,” he said.
“Until the last game you play for India, there have to be butterflies. Once those butterflies are gone, you know it’s time. They have stayed for a long time and will continue to do so. And this test will be no different,” he added.
Kohli will join an illustrious list that includes Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Ishant Sharma who have all completed 100 Tests.
“It feels surreal, I never thought I would play 100 tests for India. It’s been a long journey, I’ve played a lot of cricket over the course of those 100 Tests, a lot of international cricket.
Given the amount of tests we play these days, God has been kind. I’ve been working really hard on my fitness and it’s a big moment for me, my family and my coach. So yeah, it’s a very, very special moment,” he added.
Kohli was the most successful Indian skipper in Tests, having led in 68 games and won 40 of them.
The biggest win of his captaincy career came in 2018 when India beat Australia in their own backyard to retain the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. It took India 71 years and 12 series to make history as Kohli’s defiant squad beat the Aussies 2-1 with victories in Adelaide and Melbourne.
“The way people see Test cricket being played under me or just the way I played Tests and how I thought and wanted to play Tests is no coincidence.
“I tried very hard. I’ve really kept my core moral values intact when it comes to the game of cricket, which is wanting to play Test cricket and wanting the purest form of the game to stay alive.”
Kohli’s batting ability also revived the Test format’s waning fortunes and the Indian said he was proud to have contributed to it.
“When you have a greater impact on those around you. It’s a matter of pride and really something to feel blessed about because this opportunity comes very rarely to people and I was blessed with this opportunity.
“I gave this format my heart and soul. I was privileged… and I did my job to the best of my ability. I have fulfilled my responsibility.”
When Kohli took over the role of Test captain, India was ranked No. 7 in the ICC rankings and when he relinquished it, India was the No. 1 Test team for five consecutive years.
“I remember clearly when I took over as Test captain I had this vision for the team, that we have to play a certain way and we’ve achieved that five years in a row, so immensely proud.
“There was something magical about being a part of you walking into the dressing room and knowing you could win anywhere and that feeling was so powerful,” he said.
Maiden Testton in Adelaide turned it around
Kohli heralded his arrival on the big stage five months after his Test debut when he scored his first Test century – a 116 against Australia in Adelaide in January 2012.
“I think my first Test 100 is something I remember very fondly and is very fresh in my memory,” he said.
“It’s a day that will always be very, very special to me. And the fact that it came from Australia made it even more special.
“For a young man looking to establish himself in Test cricket, that first 100 win in Australia was something that really boosted my confidence. If you look at my career, it really took off from there. My confidence grew by leaps and bounds “, he called.
Of his fond memories, he said: “There were five to six years from 2015 to 2020, the type of cricket we played, each of those tours or each of those games is a special memory in its own right.
“We’ve had some tough losses, we’ve had some amazing comebacks. I’m very proud of the whole phase.
“I can’t focus on a single memory. I mean it would be wrong if I pointed to a series win in Australia or, you know, a 2-1 win from England to possibly get the trophy back with us.”
Kohli thanked his actor-wife Anushka Sharma for being “a huge impact” on his life.
“I have become a completely changed man for all the right reasons. I have developed properly. I am very, very thankful and thankful to God to have a life partner like her and she has been an absolute pillar of strength for me.
“I started developing when Anushka came into my life and vice versa. We both helped each other grow. I couldn’t have gone on with so much composure and so much passion and zeal if she hadn’t been my life,” he said.