ANI Photo | “He will play a major role in helping India win the series,” says Kallis on Virat’s form ahead of South Africa Tests

South Africa great Jacques Kallis believes star India batter Virat Kohli will have to be at his best if India is to defeat the Proteas in their upcoming two-match Test series, starting from December 26.
India will re-commence their ICC World Test Championship campaign with two Tests against a powerful South Africa line-up away from home over the Christmas and New Year period and Kohli’s form with the bat is likely to be pivotal to their fortunes.
Kohli was India’s leading run scorer during the last World Test Championship cycle with 932 runs from 30 innings and has already netted a century and a fifty from his side’s two completed Tests against the West Indies to begin the 2023-2025 cycle.
India is at the second spot in the WTC table, with a win and a draw, giving them a total of 66.67 points percentage. This year in seven Tests, Virat has scored 557 runs at an average of 55.70, with two centuries and a fifty. His best score is 186.
The champion right-hander is also coming off a prosperous ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup on home soil as he scored a whopping 765 runs, including three centuries and six fifties, claiming the Player of the Tournament award, and former adversary Kallis thinks he will be the key to India’s success in South Africa.
“I am sure he will want to have a big series here in South Africa. He has been in good form. I think he will play a major role in helping India. If they are to win here, he will have to have a good series,” Kallis told Star Sports as quoted by ICC.
Virat has an excellent record against the red ball in South Africa, with the 35-year-old having scored two of his 29 Test centuries against the Proteas away from home. It is also one of only three countries that Kohli can boast an average greater than 50, with his healthy average of 51.35 only bettered in Australia and at home in India. In all, Virat has scored 719 runs in seven Tests in SA, which includes two centuries and three fifties.
“He is a massive player, no matter where it is. Having played here quite a bit and had a fair amount of success,” Kallis noted.
“He will be able to pass that knowledge on to the other guys, especially the younger guys and give them ideas on how to manage these conditions and then what to expect,” concluded Kallis.
The last time India travelled to South Africa they fell to a 2-1 series defeat during the last World Test Championship cycle and Kallis is expecting the Proteas to once again prove hard to beat on home soil.
“This is a good Indian team but South Africa is tough to beat in South Africa,” Kallis added.
“Centurion will probably suit South Africa and Newlands will probably suit India. It will be a good series and it will come down to one or two sessions that one team might play better than the other. It would be a closely fought contest,” he concluded.
India’s Test squad for South Africa: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan (wk), KL Rahul (wk), Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Siraj, Mukesh Kumar, Mohammed Shami (subject to fitness), Jasprit Bumrah (vc), Prasidh Krishna.
South Africa Test squad: Temba Bavuma (c), David Bedingham, Nandre Burger, Gerald Coetzee, Tony de Zorzi, Dean Elgar, Marco Jansen, Keshav Maharaj, Aiden Markram, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Keegan Petersen, Kagiso Rabada, Tristan Stubbs and Kyle Verreynne.
Test schedule:
December 26-30 – 1st Test, Centurion
January 3-7 – 2nd Test, Cape Town. (ANI)

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