R Ashwin is busy piling up some scarcely believable numbers. He has now taken 21 five-fors in 39 Tests, he has more Man-of-the-Series awards than any other Indian, and is well on track to move from 200 to 300 in one season.* In the Indore Test, the batsmen too finally piled on the runs, with captain Virat Kohli scoring a double-hundred, Ajinkya Rahane getting his personal best with 188, and Cheteshwar Pujara setting up the declaration with a century of his own. Kohli, though, wants to focus on the smaller contributions and the team effort, as opposed to individual achievements.
"It is a team sport, and it is played like a team sport," Kohli said. "Those who write - praise or criticise - performances stand out only for them. In the team we know, for example, if a fast bowler runs in hard for four overs and gets only two wickets, that means a lot in a Test match. For me the most important points in this series were [Ravindra] Jadeja's batting in the first Test, [Wriddiman] Saha's batting in the second Test, and [Mohammed] Shami's spell in the second Test. They matter a lot to the team. Obviously you feel good about big individual contributions, but we focus more on little contributions. Because the big ones will be talked of anyway."
Shami's spell in Kolkata came with his daughter unwell and in the hospital. "He's someone everyone loves in the team and everyone gets along with," Kohli said of Shami. "He's someone that whatever might be happening with him, you won't know. I had no clue that his daughter was in the hospital; he told us after. He will come on to the field and give everything he has.
"Just needs a bit of motivation every now and then, which every fast bowler does in conditions that we have. Skill wise, there is no doubt he is a top top bowler. He has a knack of picking up wickets, even on this wicket he created quite a few chances."
If Shami's was not a big contribution in terms of numbers, Kohli's was. He showed remarkable patience and restraint in the face of disciplined New Zealand bowling in scoring his second double-century. Both his last centuries have been doubles. This innings of 211 included 115 singles and only 80 runs in boundaries. Kohli spoke of the mindset required.
"Everybody is determined and focused to perform for the team whenever he goes out to bat," Kohli said. "I have scored hundreds in the past but not big ones. I have always been disappointed with myself that I don't convert them. Maybe I get satisfied at reaching a milestone. I convince myself now to not think of milestones. The crowds will be excited, the team-mates will appreciate it, but you should reinforce that mindset to convert it into a big one. So I tried to react just enough to let everybody know I appreciate their support, but not react as if I have achieved all I wanted to achieve. I wanted to go long."
Kohli celebrated his hundred by mock-throwing with an imaginary sidearm, thanking Sanjay Bangar, the India batting coach who celebrated his 44th birthday the day India finished their whitewash of New Zealand. "He always keeps assuring you that you are playing well, stay in that zone," Kohli said of Bangar. "It helps a lot. Sometimes you are in a position when you are thinking about too many things, but there should be someone who talks to you, shares your load, shares your thoughts. On a regular basis he does that. That's why I thanked him. A lot of people ignore how much work the support staff puts in behind the scenes."
*16.10GMT, October 11: The article had erroneously stated that Ashwin has 20 five-wicket hauls till date. This has been corrected.