Possible for Ajinkya Rahane to play against South Africa, says Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli spoke on the problems that Team India faced in the first Test at a conference on Friday. The skipper said that while the Indian bowlers left no room for complaint, the batsmen need to step up in the 2nd Test at the Centurion. He spoke of the South African conditions and how they baffle the Indian batsmen. But he assured that after going through all the mistakes and experiences of the 1st Test, the Indian batting unit was in a better shape to counter South African pace battery.

Indian batsmen need to tune themselves to the bouncer

Kohli said that an ideal batsman should not get baffled by the bouncer, as there is abundance of bounce on the South African pitches. Speaking at a conference, Kohli told PTI on Friday,

“I have said this in other press conferences as well, that one must not get surprised by the bouncer. You have to maintain a composure when you get a sudden change of bounce, which you experience in South Africa. The other pitches that bounce around the world as well, but here bounce can be steep and it can be quite steep from length also. I think those are the things that you need to mentally tune yourself to get over and adjust to. And accept that these things are going to be a major part of batting in South Africa.”

Bowlers were perfect, batsmen are getting better

“I feel that definitely the batting order, through the mistakes that we committed in the first game and through the experience that we gained in the first game, we are suddenly in a much better shape to counter their bowling attack in this game.”

As reported by ESPN Cricinfo, Virat Kohli said that the team was not worried about the bowling unit at all. He added that the batsmen needed to put in 60-70 extra runs as compared to the totals in the Indian subcontinent. He said,

“We were really happy about how the bowlers went about their business. So I’m not worried about the bowling front at all. We were in a very good space, and we believe that we can get them out twice again in this game. You definitely need to do that in Test matches, but you need a solid batting form also. Especially when you are playing away from home, you need those 60-70 extra runs, compared to back home because back home your bowlers will be stronger.”

Virat Kohli motivated by South Africa’s performance

Kohli said that after seeing the Proteas put on a strong-willed show in the 1st Test, the Indian team was motivated to perform better as a unit. He said,

“But the way they showed their skill sets and their character in the first game, it motivated us as a batting group also to play together as a unit and get good results.”

On dropping Ajinkya Rahane and finding right balance

Team India faced much criticism from all corners after India faced a 72-run defeat in the 1st Test. Most of the criticism surrounded around the fact that Ajinkya Rahane, who is considered a specialist in alien conditions, was dropped out. Virat Kohli had said earlier, that Rohit Sharma was picked over Rahane on the basis on current form and not player history. And this is exactly what he reiterated, when he said,

“You know it’s funny how things change in a matter of weeks or maybe just about 5 days. Before the first Test no one thought that he (Rahane) should be in the XI, and now suddenly people are looking at the options. Look, us as a team, it’s all about finding the right balance. If players fit in in the kind of balance that we want to go in as a side, then they will fit in.”

Also read, Harsha Bhogle feels that replacing Shikhar Dhawan with KL Rahul would not create a big difference.

Kohli doesn’t want outside opinions

Kohli said that although there were too many opinions building up outside the Indian dressing room, the team was not going to pay heed to them. Kohli said that he never ruled out the possibility, that Ajinkya Rahane can play in South Africa. The final decision will be taken after the practice, said Kohli. To quote the skipper’s concluding words,

“So, we don’t want opinions that are created outside, the talk of the town and all those sort of things. But yes, he is a quality player, he has done well in South Africa, all conditions actually which are away from home. He has probably been our most consistent and solid player away from home. I explained the reasons why Rohit started ahead of him, but I’m not saying that Ajinkya cannot or will not start in this game. As I said, possibilities are all open at this moment and we shall decide after practice.”