Virat Kohli has said he is happy to have received the chance to play 100 Test matches, stating that the five-day game remains “real” cricket.
The star Indian batsman will become the 12th Indian player to feature in a century of red-ball matches when Rohit Sharma's team take on Sri Lanka in the first Test in Mohali on Friday.
After relinquishing captaincy in the longest format, and without the leadership of the white-ball teams, Kohli is now playing just as a batsman and the focus has shifted to his form with the bat; Kohli scored his last international ton in November 2019.
On the eve of the milestone match, Kohli said he was glad to join a select group.
“I am just grateful that I have made it to 100. God has been kind. It's a big moment for me, my family, and coach,” Kohli told the Indian cricket board's website.
“My first Test hundred is something I remember very fondly. Knowing that it came in Australia [in 2012] made it much more special. An overseas hundred for a young guy trying to establish himself in Test cricket was something that really boosted my confidence. My career just took off from there.”
The former captain has been ardent supporter of Test cricket and maintained it is the format that gave him the greatest joy.
“I personally never grew up thinking I have to score small runs, the idea was to score huge runs,” Kohli said before the match in Mohali against Sri Lanka, which will be the visitors' 300th Test.
“My idea was to bat long. I used to enjoy batting for long periods of time, try to win games for my team, or try to get a first-innings lead, which is the format we used to follow.
“These are the things which reveal your true character. I just felt that Test cricket needed to stay alive, because this for me is real cricket.”
Captain Rohit credited Kohli for helping India reach the heights it has in the format.
“As a Test team, we stand in very good position. If you look at the last five years of our Test cricket … the whole credit goes to Virat for getting us going in this particular format,” Rohit said.
India's coach Rahul Dravid added: “To be able to play one [Test] is great. To play 100 is a fantastic achievement.
“It's an achievement Virat Kohli can be very proud of. It's a great achievement for one of India's greatest players. Just looking at his fitness and looking at where he is, I think he has a lot more to go.”