When Virat Kohli took over Test captaincy at Sydney full-time out of the blue from MS Dhoni post the latter’s sudden retirement in the tour of Australia Down Under in 2014-15, little did he know that it will be at the same venue where he will achieve his “biggest achievement”, bigger than even 2011 World Cup triumph, of his career four years later.
India lose 2-0 Down Under in 2014/15 under Kohli/Dhoni
It was in Sydney 2015 that Kohli was the given the mantle to lead the Indian team full-time in Test cricket as Dhoni chose to retire from Test cricket mid-way in the Test series Down Under even as India trailed 2-0 going into the fourth Test at Sydney. Virat Kohli led from the front (147, 46) at Sydney to secure a hard-fought draw and keep the margin of defeat to 2-0.
India win 2-1 under Virat Kohli in 2018-19
Cut to 2019 Sydney Test, India celebrated a 2-1 Test series triumph over Australia for the first time Down Under. And Kohli hailed the achievement as his biggest ever, even better than the 2011 World Cup triumph he was part of.
(P.S: Sydney Test was not the first match as Test captain for Virat Kohli. He led for the first time in Tests in the first Test at Adelaide during the same tour. India lost the Adelaide Test narrowly by 48 runs as even as Kohli scored twin tons in the match)
Besides this historic Test series win Down Under, under the leadership of Kohli, the captain has also redeemed himself of his failure at this very ground, Sydney, in 2015 World Cup semis against Australia when he was dismissed for just 1 as India were knocked out of the tournament.
But does this win is well-deserving for India who defeated a second-string Australia Down Under?
Australia were without Warner-Smith
Australia missed their charismatic pair of David Warner and Steve Smith who are serving a year ban for ball tampering. Without these batsmen, Australia were reduced to a domestic team, even poor than a Ranji side, devoid of any experience. It is like similar to an Indian XI without Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara who were the two heroes of the 2-1 series win.
But a Test series win in Australia, that too for the first time in seven decades, must be celebrated as it takes a lot to win an away Test series. And India know the pain, having lost two close Test series in South Africa and England last year.
India must be applauded for the series win
Despite the state of Australia at the moment, nothing can be taken away from the lion-hearted effort of Kohli and his men who silenced all critics who called them lions at home and lambs abroad.
For Kohli, life as a Test skipper has come full circle, completing a Test series win Down Under at the very same ground – Sydney – where he took over the leadership in the longest format full-time from Dhoni four years ago.
And Kohli cannot be faulted for rating the win higher than World Cup triumph and giving Test cricket a boost in the current T20-loving phase of the gentleman’s game. Well done, Kohli and Co.