Team India head coach Ravi Shastri has revealed that when Virat Kohli walks on to the field with a winning mentality, it inspires other players as well. The aggressive right-hand swashbuckler had been running riot and recently cemented his place in South Africa by leading Team India to win the six-match ODI series 5-1 and the T20Is 2-1 in the recently concluded Proteas tour. The Indian skipper has proved his worth in the limited-overs format, however, the Team India coach feels that the 29-year old can play in any condition in any format of the game.
Ravi Shastri spoke to India Today, and said that Kohli had a 'winning' mentality despite Team India being 2 down in the three-match Test series. The coach made it clear that people's criticism doesn't matter to them much as they concentrate on their game instead of being affected by the opinions that are being thrown at him from the outside.
"Virat Kohli leads from the front. He is a tough guy in the mind and that makes a huge difference because it spreads amongst his teammates as well. And we knew even after losing 2 Tests that we weren't far behind. People might say anything, they might write anything but we give two hoots," Shastri told India Today.
Shastri revealed that Kohli knew the team were capable of winning the third and final Test at New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. The pitch was termed as 'poor' by the ICC after the deliveries by pacers were too fast and bounced too high which were 'dangerous' for any batsman to face. Nonetheless, the coach was assured by Kohli's winning belief that the boys could pull off a win.
"The captain not for one minute didn't believe India wouldn't win (the Johannesburg Test). That was the difference. Even at 120 for 1 he believed that India could win. Even when they came in at tea time he was very clear that "we are winning this Test match". They (South Africa) were three down at that time.
"When you have that kind of self-belief, as I said it's like a disease which spreads among the other players," he added.
Shashtri compared the South African team from 1992 to the current team and has said that the Proteas attacking unit is one of the best in the world and can do wonders on the conditions in South Africa. Shastri has no problem in admitting that the South Africa tour was gruesome and hectic but feels that Kohli has learnt a lot as a captain.
"As captain he would have learnt a heck of a lot because this was a tough tour, make no mistake about it. I've been going to South Africa since 1992, you tell me one South African team which is not a strong team? And when you look at their attack now, it's as good as any in the world especially in those conditions."
Shastri lauded Kohli for his performance with the bat in the South Africa tour and has repeated it again for the entire world to know that 'He is the best batsman in the world'. Kohli made 153 runs in the second Test at Centurion and scored three One Day International centuries in the six-match ODIs.
"Once he got that 150 in Centurion there was no looking back. Even the two innings that he played next he might have just got 40-50 but it was top class. By the time the one-day series was over he showed why he's the best batsman in the world. There is no question that he is the best batsman.
"Across all formats to have that kind of consistency, to have that ability to finish a game. To first know that there is a chance here and then to go out and dominate and then to have that level of consistency. Close to 870 runs on a tour of South Africa is unreal," the 55-year-old said.
Virat Kohli now has 21 centuries in Test cricket and 35 tons in One Day Internationals. The Team India coach feels that the skipper has come on to the same level as the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar.
"Just the fact that Virat Kohli has been brought on the same page as Sachin Tendulkar, I don't have to say anything more.
Shastri terms the Indian skipper as 'dominating' and says that there are not too many people in the world who can be as dominating as Kohli.
"He's unbelievable and he challenges himself. He says, 'I'm up against the best attack in the world, the conditions are suiting the opposition, if I'm worth my salt let me get runs here'. And he goes out and does it. And the manner in which he gets runs is something that sets him apart. He dominates. He's a dominating player and you don't see too many," Shastri concluded.
The Indian skipper has currently been rested for the Tr-Nation series between India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and it will be Rohit Sharma who will lead the Men in Blue in the Nidahas Trophy 2018.