India coach Rahul Dravid backs 'phenomenal' Virat Kohli to score big

Visitors aiming for first-ever series win in South Africa as they prepare for second Test in Johannesburg

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India coach Rahul Dravid expects captain Virat Kohli to be back among the runs soon, stating that the star batsman has looked in great touch during training.

Kohli's form in red-ball cricket has nosedived, managing 652 runs in his last 14 Tests at an average of 26 — which is around half his career average of a little over 50.

While the Indian team is on a high after completing a 113-run win in the first Test in Centurion, Kohli's diminishing returns were back in focus as India prepared for the second Test that begins in Johannesburg on Monday.

India are aiming for their first-ever series triumph in the county and Dravid expects Kohli — who has not scored a Test century in more than two years — to come good.

“Virat has been phenomenal over the last 20 days we have been here, the way he has trained and connected with the group,” Dravid said on Sunday.

“I could not speak more highly about him and the way he has committed to his own preparation and his own practice. On and off the field he has been a fantastic leader.

“We were in a very good space leading into the first Test and a lot of that was led by Virat. It is a pleasure to work with someone like him. He batted well but could not convert those starts.”

India are likely to play with the same eleven at the Wanderers, with under-fire Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane expected to get another chance to save their spots.

Dravid admitted that batting is the one area where the team can improve. The visitors were well-placed at 272-3 in on the first day of the Centurion test, only to get bowled out for 327.

Their pace attack then ensured victory with a stellar display as they bowled out South Africa for under 200 in both innings.

“It's not very often you come to overseas conditions and get to 272 for three on the first day,” the former captain said. “We know we could probably have got more [runs]. To get bowled out for 327, that's something we'd like to improve.”

Dravid added that India could also have batted better in the second innings, when they were dismissed for 174.

“It was a good Test match but there are areas where we can learn and improve because we know we are going to have to do it in this game.”

India's recently-appointed coach said there was an awareness in the team that in the past “maybe we've slipped up a little after winning a game. We're going to work very hard because I expect South Africa to respond tomorrow".

South Africa, meanwhile, will not be too worried as they matched India with bat and ball after the opening day of the first Test. Wicketkeeper batsman Quinton de Kock announced his retirement from the format right after the defeat in Centurion and Kyle Verreynne is likely to wear the gloves.

Updated: January 02, 2022, 1:54 PM
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