Johannesburg: India Test skipper Virat Kohli has been phenomenal despite “all the noise around him” and will soon be scoring big runs, head coach Rahul Dravid said on Sunday, backing the superstar batter who has been locked in a war of words with the BCCI over the way his white-ball captaincy tenure ended.
What has added to the drama is Kohli not turning up for pre-match media interactions ever since contradicting BCCI president Sourav Ganguly’s description of the sequence of events that followed his decision to relinquish T20 captaincy and subsequent removal as ODI skipper.
“I know there’s been a lot of noise on other issues outside of the group, even leading into this particular Test match. But honestly, in terms of keeping the morale high, it’s not been very difficult because it’s been led by the skipper himself,” Dravid said on the eve of the second Test against the Proteas here.
“Virat has been absolutely phenomenal over the over the last 20 days that we’ve been here. The way he’s trained, the way he’s practised, the way he’s connected with the group. He has been phenomenal and I could not speak more highly of him,” added the former captain.
Asked why Kohli has not addressed the media so far in the tour, Dravid said, “There is no specific reason for that. I don’t decide this but I am told he will be speaking on eve of his 100th Test. Then you can ask all the questions on his 100th Test.”
Kohli’s 100th Test would be the third match against South Africa in Cape Town from January 11.
He kicked up a storm before the tour by stating that he was never asked to reconsider leaving T20 captaincy as asserted by BCCI president Sourav Ganguly. His statement was recently met with a rebuttal from chief selector Chetan Sharma who said that Kohli was requested to hold his decision by everyone in the Board at least till the end of the T20 World Cup.
Another issue has been batting form. India lead the ongoing series 1-0 but Kohli’s inability to convert starts over the last two years and his play outside the off stump has remained the talking point.
“As coach, there’s not really too much you can do once the game starts… there’s not too much that you can control in the results…we’re really looking to prepare well and get the team into a good space,” Dravid said.
“…the way he’s committed to his own preparation, his own practice. And also just the way he’s connected with the group over the last two weeks on and off the field. He has truly been a fantastic leader.”
“So, that’s really helped in creating a really good space leading into the first Test match. A lot of that was led by Virat and his leadership really came to the fore. It’s been a pleasure to work with someone like him.”
Dravid sees Kohli back to scoring hundreds very soon, something he has not done in over two years.
“Even personally, he’s in a really good space and even though he sort of batted well and couldn’t convert those starts, I feel there’s going to be big runs, really good scores coming in from someone like him.”
“Just observing him around the group, how relaxed, how calm he has been and how he’s preparing and how switched on he is, it (big score) might not happen in the next game. I would really hope it happens in the next game.
“But I do feel with someone like him we’re going to see really big scores.”
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