Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli[photo: Twitter]

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Virat Kohli’s childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma feels that it is “extremely necessary” for the Indian Test captain to score big runs in the upcoming three-match Test series in South Africa which begins from December 26 onwards to hit back at his critics following the controversy that has erupted after his fiery press conference earlier this month.

Virat Kohli’s controversial remarks on his white-ball captaincy ahead of the team’s departure for the Test and ODI series against the Proteas triggered a storm by exposing an underlying tension between him and the administrators of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

Controversy erupted in Indian cricket earlier this month when Virat Kohli was removed – rather unceremoniously – as the captain in the ODIs after he stepped down as T20I skipper after the 2021 T20I World Cup concluded.

Virat Kohli with his childhood coach Raj Kumar Sharma (file photo)
Virat Kohli with his childhood coach Rajkumar Sharma (file photo)

Virat Kohli Has Answered Any Controversy With His Bat: Rajkumar Sharma

During a discussion on the next vital Test series, Rajkumar Sharma was asked if Virat Kohli is practicing hard in the nets in a bid to answer all the controversies with his big scores.

He responded by saying, “It is a good thing if that happens. He has always answered any controversy with his bat and if succeeds in doing that this time as well, it will be very good for the Indian team because it is extremely necessary for him to score.”

Virat Kohli (File)
Virat Kohli (File)

Virat Kohli will be touring South Africa for the third time in his career, having scored 558 runs in the nation during his last two visits, at 55.80 with two centuries and two fifties. Notably, India hasn’t won a Test series in the rainbow nation in their previous 7 attempts. Virat Kohli’s form of late hasn’t been great either. Since November 2019, the Indian Test skipper hasn’t scored a century in any of the formats.

Rajkumar Sharma Has Full Faith In Virat Kohli

Rajkumar Sharma feels that Virat Kohli’s form will be important for the Indian team as South Africa have a strong bowling attack and he believes that the skipper will emerge successfully with the bat.

Virat Kohli has amassed 7801 runs in 97 Tests so far averaging 50.66 but after the 2019 Bangladesh series, where he scored his last Test ton, his average didn’t cross 35 in the next 6 series. While he averaged only 19.33 in 3 Tests in 2020, he averaged 28.41 in 10 Tests in 2021 and will look to make amends.

“South Africa has a very good bowling attack, especially the fast-bowling attack is fantastic. So Virat being in form is very important for the Indian team and the way he is preparing, I have full faith that he will be successful and will score big runs,” he said.

Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar [Image Courtesy: Twitter]
Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar [Image Courtesy: Twitter]
The former first-class cricketer also talked about Sachin Tendulkar’s advice to the Indian team ahead of the tour and the role Virat Kohli has to play in the line-up as a batter.

“Sachin is a great player and the more the youngsters learn from his experience, the better it is. Regarding Virat’s role, he knows very well how important it is for him to stay in the middle because the Indian team is quite inexperienced and has not played much cricket in South Africa.”

The opener will be played at the Centurion on December 26. It’s been six months since South Africa last played a Test and the team is playing under a new captain, Dean Elgar. South Africa has only played five Tests in 2021, so far. They should have played nine but Australia opted not to travel for a four-Test series in March.

If all goes as planned, South Africa should play at least ten Tests in 2022 and can build on the foundation they laid in the Caribbean, where they won both Tests. Anrich Nortje’s series-ending hip injury has ended the debate about which one of Lungi Ngidi and Duanne Olivier should be in the starting XI. Likely, they’ll both be included despite Lungi Ngidi’s five-month absence from competitive cricket.

India Probable XI: Mayank Agarwal, KL Rahul, Hanuma Vihari, Virat Kohli (C), Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant (WK), Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah & Mohammed Siraj 

South Africa Probable XI: Dean Elgar (c), Aiden Markram, Temba Bavuma, Rassie van der Dussen, Kyle Verreynne, Quinton de Kock (wk), Wiaan Mulder, Keshav Maharaj, Kagiso Rabada, Duanne Olivier, Lungi Ngidi