Virat Kohli has replaced Virender Sehwag as my favourite cricketer, says Dean Jones
Jones believes Mohammad Shami and Ravichandran Ashwin will be key to India's success in South Africa.
What's the story?
Former Australian skipper Dean Jones revealed that Virat Kohli is his favourite player at the moment as the Indian skipper's aggressive approach to the game and immense self-belief has helped the 29-year-old take on the mantle from his previous favourite Virender Sehwag.
At a time when a number of former Australian players including Ricky Ponting is praising fellow countryman Steven Smith as the world's best batsman, Jones feels that Kohli is at an altogether different level and credited Indian head coach Ravi Shastri for bringing out the best in his skipper.
"Virat Kohli is my favourite player and he has taken over from Virender Sehwag. I love his aggression and belief to score runs on any pitch and Ravi Shastri brings the best out of Kohli as well. I'm expecting Virat to do a good job in South Africa," Jones told NDTV.
Jones expects India to put up a good fight in South Africa but unlike the sub-continent conditions where the bat has done most of the talking, the 56-year-old believes the Indian bowlers will hold the key to the series' outcome.
I'm expecting Virat to do a good job in South Africa," he said. "Bowling is India's key and they have got really good pace attack. I love (Mohammad) Shami, I love (the way) he goes about his bowling. Ashwin too will lead the spin attack."
In case you didn't know...
Kohli has been in terrific form with the bat and recently became only the eighth player in cricket history and the second Indian after the legendary Sachin Tendulkar to score 50 international hundreds.
He has also had a wonderful run as skipper of the Indian side in all formats of the game and after a tough period under former coach Anil Kumble looks well at ease with Ravi Shastri at the helm.
The heart of the matter
The rift between Kumble and Kohli meant that the former had to walk away but it has been an altogether different story when it comes to Shastri and Kohli.
Jones believes that positive working relationship between the pair has rubbed off on Kohli and has made him an even better batsman than his former self.
Jones, an aggressive batsman during his playing days, rated swashbuckling former Indian opener Virender Sehwag as his favourite player previously but feels that he has found the able replacement in Kohli praising the Indian skipper for his approach to the game.
While India has found it easy at home and in subcontinent conditions for much of Kohli's reign as Indian skipper, the upcoming tour to South Africa will be his biggest test yet but Jones does feel that the current Indian side are much better equipped to deal with the alien conditions that previous squads.
While Bhuvneshwar Kumar has earned much praise for his bowling off late, Jones singled out Mohammad Shami as India's biggest pace asset and is not ruling out Ravichandran Ashwin to make an impact as well despite the pitches in South Africa not expected to be to the off spinner's liking.
India's tour to South Africa will comprise of 3 Test matches, 6 ODIs and 3T20Is and will commence with the first Test to be played at Cape Town from January 5.
The Indian Test squad was supposed to be picked on November 27, along with the selection of the squad for the ODI series against Sri Lanka, but has since been pushed back until the conclusion of the third Test between India and Sri Lanka which begins in New Delhi on Saturday, December 2.
Considering the rich vein of form Kohli has been in, it's hardly surprising to see Jones picking out the Indian skipper as his current favourite. The 29-year-old seems to have the whole world at his feet at the moment and there seems to be no end to his dominance.
However, the upcoming tour to South Africa is expected to provide Kohli a stern test as both player and skipper, and it will require a good team effort than just individual performances to help the Indian side continue their fine form.
In Kohli and Shastri, the Indian team has a strong partnership at the helm to control proceedings and the Indian cricket fans will be hoping that the home dominance translates into success on foreign surfaces as well.