India's Virat Kohli after training at SuperSport Park in Centurion
India's Virat Kohli after training at SuperSport Park in Centurion Image Credit: AFP

Virat Kohli has two challenges when India takes on South Africa in the first Test match at Centurion on Boxing Day.

First, of course, is to beat South Africa at a venue where they have lost just two of 26 Test matches played there, whereas India have lost both their Test matches on the same turf.

The second challenge is of course for the selectors, who have just axed Kohli as ODI captain are breathing down his neck after he held a news conference blaming them for his removal in an unprofessional way just after the announcement of the Test team for South Africa.

Kohli, who bossed Indian cricket on and off the field after he was appointed captain in all formats for almost five years, is no more the favourite of the selectors and — if results don’t go his way in the South Africa series — it is very likely the powers that be might replace him with Rohit Sharma, whose batting record in Test Cricket has gone up where as Kohli’s average in the last 13 Test matches has slipped. In fact, he has got only three fifties in the those matches. He has not looked woefully out of form, but the hundreds in Test cricket have not come for more than two years and there can’t be a bigger motivation for King Kohli to make runs and silence his detractors.

South Africa captain, Dean Elgar, has warned of this, even though they are playing in their own backyard. They need to be wary of the Indian team and specially Kohli, who is wounded and hurt — and more vulnerable than normal. The only way for King Kohli to make up for the hurt the selectors have inflicted on him is to being even more vicious and dangerous than before and we all know what he is capable off.