SA’s plans for other-worldly Kohli

by Benice BurgerJanuary 19, 2018

If India emerge victorious in the second Test against the Proteas at Centurion, it will be because of Virat Kohli.

Regardless of what happens between now and the end of the match, it was the Indian captain’s phenomenal 153 in the first innings that kept his side alive.

Had Kohli fallen cheaply, India would have been rolled for less than 200 and South Africa would be overwhelming favourites to win in Pretoria and claim an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.

Instead, Kohli proved his class and justified his status as one of the best batsmen on the planet – inside or outside of India – as South Africa’s bowlers had no answer to his 360-degree shot-making ability.

Kohli was other-worldly at times, finding the gaps even when the Proteas had their entire field on the boundary ropes.

He hit the ball so crisply, displaying both power and placement at the same time.

In the end, Kohli fell for 153 of his side’s 307 runs.

The match is well-balanced as a result, with South Africa 118 runs ahead and with eight wickets in hand, but India will feel that they can chase down anything as long as Kohli is at the wicket.

In this kind of touch, restricting Kohli’s scoring becomes even more important than getting him out.

That much was confirmed by Proteas quick Morne Morkel after the third day’s play.

“We have a couple of options that we go to for Virat, but it is quite tough when the wicket is so slow … he is a quality batsman and has time to adjust,” Morkel said.

“For us, on this sort of surface, it’s about keeping him quiet and trying to bowl as many dot balls as possible.

“He came out with a lot of intent yesterday (Sunday), looking to score and take the game forward. For us it was important to hit our straps and stop him from scoring too quickly.”

Devastating with bat in hand, Kohli is about much more than that.

In this Test he has also made his presence felt through passionate off-ball behaviour, and whether it be through ambitious appealing or scolding his team-mates, Kohli makes a point of always being in the game.

“Virat is very competitive,” Morkel said of Kohli’s animated behaviour.

“I think it’s just his nature and it gets them going and him going. We are well aware of that but we don’t take any notice of it.”

What the Proteas will take notice of, though, is how timid Kohli made their bowling attack look on Sunday and Monday.

His wicket is key to a South African victory. It was always going to be.



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Benice Burger