India’s talismanic captain Virat Kohli on Thursday urged his in-form teammates to “leave a mark on world cricket” by going on to become one of the greatest sides ever.
Kohli’s India are bidding to extend their 17-game unbeaten run in the dead rubber fifth and final Test against England, which starts in the southern city of Chennai on Friday.
The hosts, who have already clinched the series 3-0, will become the first Indian team to go 18 matches without a loss if they avoid defeat against Alastair Cook’s struggling tourists.
Kohli called on his players to build on recent successes and become a team that can be mentioned in the same breath as Don Bradman’s Australian “Invincibles” and the legendary West Indies side of the 1980s.
“We still understand we got to play a lot of cricket everywhere in the world. It’s not only about this one period we are going through,” the 28-year-old told reporters.
“As I said it’s an ongoing process which needs to be sustained for the next five, seven or eight years for us to become a top quality side and leave a mark on world cricket — maybe known as one of the best teams to have assembled on the field,” Kohli added.
The batsman, who is in the form of his life after striking his third double century of the year, has already become the first Indian captain to win five successive series, including a 3-0 whitewash of New Zealand in October.
India sit comfortably at the top of the world rankings but Kohli insisted his side were taking nothing for granted going into the Chennai Test.
“We don’t feel invincible to be honest, we respect every opposition, we admit every time we are put under pressure, and we know teams are going to put us under pressure,” he said.
Kohli leads the series’ batting chart with 640 runs, way ahead of England batsman Joe Root, who has 397 for the four matches.
England skipper Cook said after the huge innings and 36-run loss in the third Test in Mumbai that Root was “ready” to succeed him as captain, without saying when he would eventually step down.
Kohli agrees that Root has what it takes to move up from his role of vice-captain.
“Joe is an outstanding player… he is very positive, always thinks of any situation as an opportunity… I don’t know what captaincy would do to that,” Kohli told a press conference.
“Whatever I have seen of him as a player and the way he conducts himself on the field, I think he has been a great batsman for England and he is equipped well enough to handle it [being captain].”