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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Virat Kohli expects India to produce displays worthy of No 1 status in Sri Lanka

National team captain has led a rise to top of the Test rankings, a journey that began two years ago with a defeat in Galle.

India captain Virat Kohli will lead his side during the Sri Lanka tour, starting with the first Test on Wednesday. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP
India captain Virat Kohli will lead his side during the Sri Lanka tour, starting with the first Test on Wednesday. Ishara S Kodikara / AFP

Two years ago Virat Kohli's India started a series in Sri Lanka as the team almost anyone could beat. On Wednesday they take to the field in Galle as the team to beat.

India may have been nervous last time, but now Kohli says the side has come full circle with "no massive areas of concern" as they seek to strengthen their hold on No 1 Test nation status.

Two years ago, India had not won a series in seven attempts. They lost the opening Galle Test and it proved an electro-shock. India went on to win that series 2-1.

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India have since been embroiled in near chaos off the field - the governing body put under Supreme Court administration and a coach forced out by clashes with the captain - but near domination in competition: 13 Tests played, 10 won, two drawn and just one defeat.

India captain Kohli said on Tuesday that he wants a definitive end to the drama over the departure of Anil Kumble as coach and a winning start to the new era with Ravi Shastri.

"We have spoken enough about these issues and it is something that we are not focusing on at all now," Kohli said. "We are just looking forward to the cricket now and in this series to showcase our skills and have consistent performances, which we have had as a side ever since we started our climb back in the rankings."

Kohli said Sri Lanka can expect a different start and that India can dominate Tests for years to come. They are expected to defend their top Test ranking in South Africa, England and Australia in the next year.

"It's pretty different sitting here two years after that particular series," Kohli said of the last Sri Lanka tour. "They were very important in us coming together as a team in believing that we can win a series and not just matches. So that was the beginning of that mindset.

"I think we have built a really good base for us as a team to be able to do that consistently over the next few years. We are pretty humble in our preparations and do the hard yards every game that we play. We have all bases covered strongly."

India have ruled opening batsman Lokesh Rahul out of the first Test with a viral fever.

Kohli said there would be no experiments with the opening lineup, which means Shikhar Dhawan and Abhinav Mukund should start the batting.

"I don't think there are any massive areas of concern for us," Kohli said. "We've been looking to fine-tune smaller areas during the course of the game, which probably people might not be able to pick up."

Kohli said the onus was on the Indian players to "put us into a position where we can't lose".

"We have been able to put ourselves in a position in games, 80-85 per cent of the games, where there's only one winner left," he said. "That's the kind of sustained pressure that we've been able to build."

* Agence France-Presse

SERIES SCHEDULE

First Test, Galle International Stadium
July 26-30
Second Test, Sinhalese Sports Club Ground
August 3-7
Third Test, Pallekele International Stadium
August 12-16
First ODI, Rangiri Dambulla Stadium
August 20
Second ODI, Pallekele International Stadium
August 24
Third ODI, Pallekele International Stadium
August 27
Fourth ODI, R Premadasa Stadium
August 31
Fifth ODI, R Premadasa Stadium
September 3
T20, R Premadasa Stadium
September 6

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