Kohli targeting number one spot ahead of 500th Test


A confident Virat Kohli said he firmly believes India can soon return to the top of the world rankings on the eve of their 500th Test against New Zealand.

India lost their status as the leading side in the world in the longest format of the game last month when a wet outfield in Port of Spain led to four days being washed out against West Indies, ensuring Kohli's side had to settle for a 2-0 series win.

To add insult to injury, it was fierce rivals Pakistan who replaced them at the summit, having salvaged a 2-2 draw on their tour of England.

India now turn their attention to a three-match Test series against the Black Caps, which starts with a historic opener in Kanpur on Thursday, before facing England in five Tests later this year.

Captain Kohli has challenged his side to prove they can be regarded as the leading Test nation in the world on home soil.

He said at a news conference on Wednesday: "We believe we certainly have what it takes to be the best team in the world.

"We definitely believe that. One area we have tapped into is belief. It's something that a lot of young players can lack coming into international cricket. There can be a lot of insecurities, 'Whether I'll play in the next game or whether my position is secure or not'.

"It's all about getting them rid of that feeling. When you step on to the pitch, you need to tell yourself, 'I own this position for the next eight to 10 years in Test cricket for India'.

"That's the only way you can go out there, be confident and express yourself. Express how good you are, and that's what this team has done. That's why we've been able to win seven-odd Test matches in the last 13 or 14 that we played.

"[It is] because we wanted to go out there and play bold cricket and take some risks. More often than not if you're fearless, the results will fall your way because you're willing to take that extra risk in the course of the game.

"I certainly feel that this team has what it takes to be the best."

Black Caps captain Kane Williamson is hoping spinners Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner and Mark Craig can come to the fore in what should be favourable conditions.

"India have got very good spinners, naturally very experienced in these conditions," Williamson said. 

"We have got some exciting young talent. We showed that in the T20 World Cup. That was huge for us.

"Yes, the formats are different, but I am hoping we can build on from those experiences. A lot of learning experiences to be had. Certainly this is one of them, being exposed in these conditions.

"They are suited to spin bowling so we are hoping they can play a big part in the series."

India will be without paceman Ishant Sharma due to illness, while New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham has been ruled out after taking a blow to the ribs.