India head coach Ravi Shastri feels his boys have earned the stripes by securing the final spot in the World Test Championship against New Zealand. But looking ahead at the future of the world event, he batted for a “best-of-three” final.
“This is the first time you have a Test Championship final. I think this is the biggest ever by the magnitude. It is the toughest form of the game. It is a format that tests you and it has happened over two years where teams have played each other around the world. The event is worth the hype.
“In the long run, if they want to pursue with the Test championship, a best-of-three final would have been ideal. We got to finish it as quickly as possible due to the FTP. The guys have earned their stripes. This team has not suddenly blossomed overnight,” he told reporters in the pre-departure press conference on Wednesday.
India captain Virat Kohli agreed that the WTC final spot is “an accumulation of all the hard”.
“This holds a lot of value. All of us take a lot of pride in Test cricket and the way we have progressed as a side says what Test cricket means to us. It is the hard work of the last five or six years when we started building as a side.”
Shastri feels competing against the best brings out the best in players. “Over the last two years, this side has pulled itself up and gone on to win series. When you start being on top, you have that ability. Not just Australia and England, there have been many times where this side has fought the problems. Final is a great victory for the boys, really.”
England, the final hurdle?
After a Test series win in Australia, where youngsters such as Shardul Thakur, Washington Sundar and T. Natarajan had a role to play, victory in England would complete India’s domination in red-ball cricket. But Kohli is not looking at it as a final frontier. “There is no frontier for us. The transition was really smooth because we wanted to keep Indian cricket on top.
“In Test cricket, we have finished No 1 for a few years in a row. Youngsters are coming in and another transition is on. We have done our duty with absolute commitment and our responsibility is to instill the same passion and commitment among the younger players so that we remain on top for more years to come,” said Kohli.