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Bounce or slow, Kohli at home on SA tracks

cricket Updated: Jan 23, 2011 01:12 IST
Subhash Rajta
Subhash Rajta
Hindustan Times
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Virat Kohli will be a headache for the India team management when they sit down to pick the playing XI for the World Cup opener against Bangladesh at Mirpur on February 19.

The Delhi batsman wasn't a certainty in the playing XI for the World Cup before India embarked on the South African odyssey. However, his performance in the series, coupled with the failures of others, has made it virtually impossible to keep him out of the starting XI.

"It's good for us to have more batsmen in form. It's a big positive for us and we hope he keeps scoring," said MS Dhoni after Kohli hammered a sparkling 87 not out in India's loss on Friday.

While every other batsman has struggled on these testing tracks, Kohli has seldom looked in trouble. He has been rock solid in defence and elegant in stroke-making. It won't be wrong to call him the best batsman on view from both the sides in the ODIs.

What's been most impressive is how quickly he adapted to the tracks and the way he handled Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

Whether it was the quick and bouncy wickets at Durban and Wanderers or the sluggish Port Elizabeth track, he always looked at home. While Kohli hasn't run up tall scores - his best score before the 87 on Friday was 53, it's his apparent comfort in handling the hostile conditions and bowlers that separates him from the rest.

On Friday, he looked at his best. Even as the other batsmen fell around him, he stayed unruffled. The drives and punches from the back foot came thick and fast and his favourite clip off the pads kept the fielders on their toes.

Apart from his batting, Kohli has been impressive on the field as well. He has taken some astonishing catches in the slips and close-in positions and has affected quite a few run outs. As the India World Cup squad isn't amongst the most athletic, he will add value to the team with his athleticism.

But while Kohli has been a positive, the others have disappointed. Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and even Dhoni are yet to hit their best form, and going into the World Cup with a string of low scores is not desirable. The India skipper, however, didn't sound too worried. "The conditions back home will be entirely different and I am sure the batsmen will get back into form on familiar home tracks."