Kohli, Vijay sweat it out on the nets ahead of first Test against South Africa in Mohali

Virat Kohli, other than fixing the issues around pitches, also has to fine-tune his game, says a report in Hindustan Times, adding that with an excess of limited-overs matches preceding the Test series, Kohli knows what impact any kinks that could have developed in his game do in an important Test series.

“Overcoming the tendency to poke outside off-stump, and the urge to go after every delivery, all these were Kohli’s immediate priorities. He switched to his successful stance that has fetched him five centuries and two half-centuries in the last eight Tests — taking a middle-stump guard and standing half-a-foot outside the crease. Kohli’s preparation was to throw the bowler off his length and at the same time find extra time to handle pace,” says the HT report.

“Murali Vijay and Kohli batted on adjacent net pitches, one standing a foot ahead of the other. Kohli knows what works for him, and Vijay knows that what works for Kohli may not work for him. Taking throw downs from 17 yards, the majority of them bouncers, Kohli was keener on tightening his off-side game; and that meant leaving a lot of deliveries alone. The flick, cut and wristwork of Vijay, though, was applauded by Kohli every time. More than the shots, Vijay’s return after missing out on a couple of Tests in Sri Lanka would have been assuring for Kohli,” adds the report.

Meanwhile a report in The Indian Express talks about the warmth between the Indian captain and veteran curator Daljit Singh. “The veteran curator and the aging pitch wait for Virat Kohli in the middle of the cloudy Mohali stadium. The first thing Kohli does after walking on the central square is to touch the 73-year-old Daljit Singh’s feet. In his more than 20 years association with the Mohali ground, Daljit has nurtured the 23-year-old pitch and seen the 26-year-old from Delhi grow from a talented junior to the country’s Test captain. He indulgently pats Kohli, acknowledging the young man’s intuitive act of reverence. This genuine warmth between the Indian team management and the pitch in-charge at the start of the Test series is refreshing,” says the report, adding that the Mumbai bitterness hasn’t travelled to Mohali.

“The end of the 5th ODI at Wankhede was ugly. Team director Ravi Shastri and Wankhede curator Sudhir Naik know each other since their playing days, that is easily longer than the Daljit-Kohli association. But South Africa’s 438, series loss and the prickly pitch issue triggered a fight between the two of Mumbai’s famous khadoos. It also exposed the communication gap between cricket’s two important stake-holders. Looking at the long and cordial chat between Team India’s support staff (minus Shastri), Kohli and Daljit, it seems the lines have been restored,” says the Indian Express report.