I don’t want any tags, any headlines, I just go out there do my job, says Indian captain Virat Kohli

The Indian skipper and captain Virat Kohli said that he is not interested in whether anyone regards him as the best batsman in the world. Kohli’s team took India to an exceptional 5-1 series win over South Africa on Friday night, making one of the worst defeats South Africa have witnessed in home series in a bilateral series.

The 29-year-old cricketer also achieved his third century on Friday night as he made 129 runs off just 96 balls as India chased down a target of 205, conquering the match by eight wickets with more than 18 overs remaining. The series’ total runs of Virat Kohli (558 runs) was the highest by any cricketer in a bilateral series and the seventh highest in any one-day competition. The Indian Captain Kohli, however, was in no mood to get into the debate about whether he is the world’s best batsman. “I don’t feel like competing with anyone. It’s all about how I prepare, what my work ethic is like and how I’m feeling on game-day,” Kohli said.

“My only motivation is getting into that frame of mind. I only look to help my team in any way I can. If during the course of that, if you’re thinking about the team, special things happen. But if you’re thinking about being ahead of someone else, you’ll be found out very soon in this game, and then you’re compromising on what the team needs,” the 29-year-old cricketer said. He added that “I don’t want any tags, any headlines, I just go out there do my job. I don’t want to be called anything – it’s my job, I’m supposed to do what I’m doing”.

Kohli has already accomplished his 35th century on Friday, and only Sachin Tendulkar is ahead of him now, who has scored 49 centuries in ODI cricket. Tendulkar has scored 49 centuries in 463 matches, whereas Kohli has just played his 208th match on Friday. While Kohli wasn’t much interested in commenting on his status in the game, Indian coach Ravi Shastri not shied from giving his opinion about Kohli’s status. “I’ve seen him batting across all conditions in all formats and it’s not just averages, it’s the way you get runs when you get it and the impact those runs have on what the team does. I would safely say he’s the best batsmen in the world now,” Shastri said.

“Virat’s desperation to win games for his side is massive. That’s why he conducts himself the way he does, but it’s from a competitive point of view, there is nothing malicious. That desperation is shown when he bats, he doesn’t just want to get close to the line, he gets his side over the line and we saw that again tonight,” said South Africa’s stand-in captain Aiden Markram.

India vs South Africa 1st ODI: Kohli’s ton and Rahane’s sensible half century helps India to six-wicket win in Durban

Indian captain Virat Kohli (112) scored his 33rd ODI century, an extremely imperative and special one, which led Indian team to a vigorous six-wicket victory that not only helped them lead in the six-match ODI series but also gave a much-needed boost to team India as it was the first win against South Africa at Kingsmead after six losses.

However, Ajinkya Rahane’s dependable innings helped India in winning the ODI match easily. Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal shocked the middle order to leave the Proteas fluctuating before skipper Faf du Plessis, with support from Chris Morris and Andile Phelukwayo, which helped the South African team to reach 269. The South African captain Faf du Plessis (120) made his ninth ODI century. The Indian team started well at the time of chasing before Rohit Sharma misjudged a pull to be caught. Following this, Shikhar Dhawan was run out to a direct hit by Aiden Markram off a Virat Kohli call. However, Rahane (79) came at fourth for batting and the skipper took the match towards the finish line.

Both Kohli and Rahane played smartly and the match easily India took from the hands of South Africa. The South African team was struggling at 134/5 but du Plessis’ innings of 120 runs change the scenario for the hosting team. The Indian team, after all, simply played amazingly good on Thursday night with Kohli’s ton, Rahane’s dependable innings, Yadav and Chahal’s spectacular bowling.

India Vs SA Test series: Team India got a reality check of its performance in 5-day matches, many loopholes to work on

In the 3 Test match series with South Africa, India already loses first two test matches. Isn’t it shocking to see a world-class team like India losing these matches with such an ease? It is the same team that looks strongest the most on papers. India, in last some years, performing extraordinarily in every home series and was winning peacefully. But playing in South Africa is definitely not a bed of full roses for the team India. They not only have to learn from these easy defeats in these test matches but also work on many other things. We will talk about the most important places where team India really needs to work on.

World’s strongest batting line, but not used appropriately

There’s no question on the world-class batting line of team India. Actually, it’s the strongest part of our team. But it sounds unimaginable when we witness team India losing because of poor performances of Indian batsmen. Players like Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ravi Pujara and many more, again and again, failed to perform in the test matches against South Africa. The inconsistency in the performances of Indian players needs to be focused and analyzed on.

Indian Captain Virat Kohli’s inexperienced decisions

There is no doubt in the ability of Virat Kohli as a batsman. He’s the world’s best batsman and we believe in it. But he still needs to work on his captaincy skills. An ace Test match player like Ajinkya Rahane was being ignored by Kohli in the first two test matches and this decision of the Indian captain needs to be evaluated. Rahane is unarguably one of the finest test match player and his records convey the same. Even dropping India’s best current lot bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the second Test match was unexpected and shocking for all. The Indian captain has to look again at his decisions.

And the hunt for good Wicketkeeper/Batsman still goes on

The biggest setback team India is suffering from is a good wicketkeeper/batsman. There was a time when Indian team had Dhoni, who was not just a good wicketkeeper but also a great batsman and captain. Team India has to compromise on both now – a great wicketkeeper and a great captain. Parthiv Patel’s performance as a wicketkeeper in second test match showed how blessed team India was when MS Dhoni was the wicketkeeper. There’s no one who seems to even fit 20% of the place in the team as a wicketkeeper like MS Dhoni. The search for a good wicketkeeper still continues.

India can’t just chop-and-change in every game, suggests Sourav Ganguly

The former Indian captain and skipper Sourav Ganguly advised India captain Virat Kohli to keep on his faith in the current batting line-up and refrain toying with team combination. After India’s defeat in the first Test in Cape Town, the team management’s decision to stick with Rohit Sharma while not selecting Ajinkya Rahane has come under huge criticism as Rahane has an extraordinary overseas record. Rohit Sharma, on the other hand, just made 21 runs across the two innings in Cape Town Test as India lost to a 72-run defeat on the fourth day of the test.

The openers came under questions due to poor performances, especially Shikhar Dhawan who was out in both innings in the same manner, and there are inside stories going that he might get replaced by KL Rahul in the second Test. Ganguly suggested in his column for TOI that Indian team should not make any changes for the second Test which begins from Saturday in Centurion. “Virat Kohli should not worry about such things [team combination]. Although KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane have a good history of scoring runs away from the sub-continent and have better records as batsmen, India can’t just chop-and-change in every game. They have shown faith in the current batting and that should continue to the next Test as well. They still have two more Tests to play and I feel all the matches will produce results,” Ganguly said.

The former captain also appreciated the five-bowler strategy, adding that the reason India came close to securing a win in Newlands was that of their ability to take 20 wickets which will carry on to do the same in the upcoming matches. The former captain observed that “There has been a lot of talk about the combination. India did the right thing by going in with five bowlers. As much as scoring runs is important in a bid to win Test matches, getting wickets is also key. The reason why we were thinking of an Indian win at some point is because the bowlers got 20 wickets and that will continue to be important criteria over the next two Tests”.

Ganguly also had some great words for Hardik Pandya as he was impressed with the 24-year-old’s performance. He also added that India’s batting performance as a unit needs to be improved. “Hardik Pandya came good with the bat and India should persist with him. The problem lies with the overall batting performance, and this has to be fixed soon. There will be lot of talk about players who were not in the playing eleven. That’s always the case when you lose,” Ganguly said. The former Indian skipper also praised the tough contest in the first Test produced saying it was an equal battle between the bat and ball.

“The first match between South Africa and India was a great exhibition of Test cricket where the ball dominated the bat. The great part about the surface was that even on the fourth day the bowlers were in the game. I have played on the Newland pitch and at some stage of the game the conditions always got better for batting. This, however, was not the case in the first Test,” he added.