Team India's augmenting appetite for victory
"Let me tell you one thing, India will win this Test even if they are 17-3," as Ganguly made this statement after India was tottering at the end of day 1, he looked extremely confident about his prediction. The audacity of his statement may have surprised many but Dada was certainly not building castles in the air.
As it turned out, when the game was finally called off at the end of day 5 due to bad light, the Indian team was, by far, on top of the Lankans. If 5-6 overs or half an hour of play could have been possible, the match would have probably fallen into India's kitty.
When it all began
It is the fiery brand of cricket that Kohli and his boys have been playing right from India's series win against Sri Lanka in 2015, that has created such deep rooted confidence not only among the cricket experts but among the fans as well. Under Kohli's captaincy, India has cultivated a work culture that has made it the most formidable test side of the day.
When Kohli was made the captain of the Indian test side after Dhoni missed out the first test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy (2014-15) in Adelaide due to injury, signs of the future were already evident. In a match full of altercation between the players of both teams, India needed 364 to win on day 5. Nobody really expected India to go all out for the bait set by the Kangaroos. However, galvanized by a young blood in charge, team India went for the total. Virat Kohli (141) had almost ushered India to victory before he was caught in the deep off the bowling of Nathan Lyon. After Kohli's departure, the team fell apart and lost the close encounter by 48 runs.
India may not have won that match, but the grit they showed has served Indian cricket much more than a test victory could ever have. It has led to the establishment of a belief among the group, that yes! We can.
Words of wisdom
The post match presentation that followed the Adelaide test was one of the most candid conversations with a cricket captain. "Before the boys went to their rooms last night, I told them that whatever happened has happened; we have to go after the target. They did that, we fell short but I am really proud of the effort. I was never going for a draw; we always wanted to win the game. It is difficult to survive by just defending. It was important to keep a positive mindset," said Kohli, categorically mentioning that he was aiming at nothing less than a win. He was not embarrassed by the foolhardy chase that led to the defeat. Rather, he wore it as a badge of honour and emphasized on the means over the end.
The Virat effect
After Kohli became India's full time captain, his demeanor has gradually rubbed on to his team mates and brought an attitudinal change in the team. The same can also be traced to the 2nd test match of the 2017 Australia tour of India. After having received a humiliating defeat by 333 runs in the first test at Pune, India were almost out of the 2nd test at Bengaluru.
India had been bundled out for a meagre 189 and looked all set to concede a big first innings lead. But it was their indomitable spirit that motivated them to stick it out on the second day.
In the first session on day 2, Indian bowlers gave away just 47 runs and clinched 2 crucial wickets. India, who was playing with just four regular bowlers, hence snatched momentum from the Aussies, credit to the impeccable lines of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav. The team not only won that match but went on to clinch the series 2-1.
Never say die
The 1st test between India and Sri Lanka was nothing but an extension of the never say die spirit that has now almost become the second nature of the Indian cricketers. At the end of day two, with India tottering at 74-5 and Sri Lanka in the driver's seat, pushing your way through to a situation where you are just 3 wickets away from victory is a testament of the hunger that the team possesses.
The difference between what could have easily been a monotonous draw and what turned out to be a nail biting encounter is the leadership of Virat, his faith in his bowlers and vice versa. Moreover, the team as a unit believes that it can literally rise beneath the ashes and take the battle to the opposition's camp.
The team may not have won the match but certainly won over hearts of millions of cricket fans all over the world. With momentum on its side, India is all set to dominate the remaining two matches against the islanders.