'He needs to convert those fifties': Ex-India pacer predicts that Virat Kohli masterclass 'isn't too far'
- Kohli poked a delivery pitched way outside the off-stump to depart for 35 in the Test series opener against South Africa.
He was looking in decent touch against South Africa on Sunday but a poor shot extended Virat Kohli's wait for the 71st international century. Batting on 35 in the Test series opener at SuperSport Park, Centurion, the India skipper poked a delivery pitched way outside the off-stump as pacer Lungi Ndigi picked up his third wicket of the day.
Kohli, currently third in the list of the all-time century-makers in international cricket after Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, is still waiting to score his 71st ton. While Kohli once again failed to convert his start into a substantial score, KL Rahul garnered the attention on Day 1, scoring the seventh Test ton of his career.
Rahul (122* off 248), alongside opener partner Mayank Agarwal (60), set up a strong platform for India with a 117-run stand. Cheteshwar Pujara departed for a golden duck before Kohli stepped in and forged an 82-run partnership with Rahul. The 33-year-old Kohli, however, fell to a loose shot, prolonging fans' wait of seeing the Indian Test skipper reach the three-figure mark.
Former India pacer Ashish Nehra also weighed in on the issue and admitted a pattern in Kohli's dismissals. Kohli has notched up four half-centuries in Test cricket this year and Nehra feels he just needs to convert the starts into centuries.
"You expect runs from someone like Kohli. He would be unhappy with his performance. But if you look at the stats, Kohli has scored runs in the previous away series in England conditions. He has the hunger to score hundreds and double hundreds and he would be a bit unhappy with himself today.
"Looking at the way he's been dismissed, it's a bit of concern. South Africa bowlers made Kohli play a loose shot and this has been a problem lately. Kohli has been giving his wickets to bowlers. Looking at today's dismissal, we understand how Kohli has been out facing swinging deliveries aimed around the fourth stump. In such cases, you need the batter to leave those deliveries.. we saw that from KL Rahul today," said Nehra on Cricbuzz.
"You expect Kohli to play those 135-150 kmph deliveries on the front foot but when the ball starts moving and gets bounce too, any player would face difficulties. We haven't seen the Kohli whom we saw in 2-3 years but once he gets out of this zone, he will be unstoppable. But Kohli's mentality and understanding of the game will help him score that much-awaited knock. He had scored 74 in the Adelaide Test against Australia this year and another such knock isn't far away," he added.
India ended the opening day at 272 for 3 with Rahul remaining not out on 122. Ajinkya Rahane, who retained his place in the Playing XI despite recent struggles, was at the other end batting on 40.