Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma reckons that India missed the champion cricketer’s services both as batter and captain in the Johannesburg Test. Sharma stated that the visitors will need their skipper's aggression and runs in Cape Town.
Kohli was ruled out of the Wanderers Test due to upper-back spasms. In his absence, KL Rahul led the team. But India succumbed to a seven-wicket loss in Johannesburg, thus tasting their first Test defeat at the venue.
At a press conference ahead of the third Test, the Indian captain confirmed that he is fit and ready to lead the side in the deciding Test, which starts on Tuesday.
Discussing Kohli’s return to the playing XI, Sharma said on the Khelneeti podcast that his presence will give a major fillip to the team’s chances. The cricketer’s childhood coach elaborated:
“India missed Virat Kohli both as batter and captain in the previous Test. I hope that he will return to the team with the same aggression that he is known for. I am also hoping that he can find his form with the bat. If both these things happen, it will be a very good sign for India. It will put them in a strong position to win the series.”
The Indian captain scored 35 and 18 in the first Test at Centurion. On both occasions, the 33-year-old was dismissed while flashing outside the off stump.
“Golden opportunity for Kohli and co. to win a series in South Africa” - Nikhil Chopra
India may have missed out on creating history in Johannesburg. However, according to former off-spinner Nikhil Chopra, the visitors stand a great chance of winning their first Test series in South Africa.
Hailing Kohli for transforming the Indian team into a bunch of match-winners, Chopra said:
“There is no doubt that he has turned this team into a match-winning outfit. There have been some amazing performances, particularly away from home. While the bowlers have claimed 20 wickets consistently, the batters have also chipped in. Now, he has a chance to create history in South Africa. I feel this is a golden opportunity for Kohli and co. to win a series in South Africa.”
One of the big questions heading into the Cape Town Test is who should make way for Kohli. Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane scored fifties in the last Test. However, Hanuma Vihari also chipped in with crucial contributions.
According to Sharma, although it might sound unfair, Vihari will have to sit out. He explained:
“Pujara and Rahane are champion players. Yes, they have struggled a bit recently but Kohli is someone who believes in backing his players when they need it the most. This is what he is doing with Rahane and Pujara, who have come up with splendid performances in the past.”
Sharma added about Vihari:
“Feel bad for Hanuma Vihari because he is a very good player. He has batted with a lot of responsibility whenever he has got chances. But cricketers sometimes have to sit out because there are seniors ahead of them. Vihari too will have to wait for his opportunities.”
Pujara and Rahane contributed 53 and 58 respectively in the second innings in Johannesburg, while Vihari scored an unbeaten 40.