ANI Photo | IND vs SA: Is Virat’s next Test peak on the way? A look at batter’s numbers in South Africa

Another tour to South Africa, another broken dream of Team India conquering the Final Frontier. Despite the series ending in a 1-1 draw, a key highlight of the two-match affair was India batter Virat Kohli.
Virat is well and truly back in whites. While the batter scored runs in all the recent Test outings, most notably the tour to West Indies, Virat fought for every run and boundary. At times, this player with immortal, god-like records looked like a mortal while batting, getting beaten by the ball sometimes.
While batting against Proteas this time around in their territory, Virat looked at his most majestic in years. While every other batter struggled for boundaries and runs throughout the series, the batter found gaps at will and played with a fresh and attacking intent.
The biggest example was during the first Test at Centurion. While Team India collapsed like a pack of cards in an attempt to fight back a first innings 163-run lead, Virat played his shots with freedom, seeming to play on a different surface. He scored 76 in 82 balls, with 12 fours and a six at a strike rate of 92.68. In the first innings, he scored 38 in 64 balls, with five fours at a strike rate of over 59.
In the second Test, Virat scored 46 in 59 balls, with six fours and a six, at a strike rate of 77.59. But fans did not really get to see Virat taking off truly as India collapsed from 153/4 to 153 all out. While chasing 79 to win, Virat was dismissed for 12 in 11 balls, with two fours at a strike rate of over 109.
Virat ended the series as second-highest run-getter and India’s highest run-getter, with 172 runs in four innings at an average of 43.00, with a half-century. He scored at a strike rate of 79.62, the highest among India batters.
He outdid his strike rates of 2020 (40.98), 2021 (44.07) and 2022 (39.43) and 2023 (54.73), with the phase of 2020-22 being one of a painful, long slump in which Kohli struggled for a Test century and sometimes, even runs.
As of now in 2024, Virat’s Test strike rate for this calendar year is 82.25 after two innings.
With this another great Test series with the bat, Virat has continued the tradition of doing well in the land of Proteas. In his first tour during 2013-14, he scored 272 runs at an average of 68.00 with a century and fifty in four innings. But that time, he was well supported by Cheteshwar Pujara (leading run-getter with 280 runs) and Ajinkya Rahane (209 runs). SA won the two-match series 1-0.
During the tour to 2018, in India’s 2-1 series loss, Virat was India’s lone warrior, scoring 286 runs in three matches at an average of 47.66, with a century and a fifty. His best score was 153. The next best batter for India was all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who scored 119 runs in six innings at an average of 19.83, with 93 of them coming in a single inning.
In the 2021-22 series against Proteas, Virat scored 161 runs in four innings at an average of over 40, with the best score of 79 in four innings. Above him were Rishabh Pant (186 runs in six innings at an average of over 37.20, with 100* as his best score) and KL Rahul (226 runs in six innings at an average of 37.66, with a half-century and knock of 123 as his best performances). Virat missed one Test match on the tour and his stats could have been different if he was around for it.
In South Africa, Virat has played nine Tests, scoring 891 runs at an average of 49.50, with two centuries and four fifties in 18 innings. His best score is 153.
Not only has Virat done well against a quality opposition, he has also struck the ball really well. Against the likes of debutant Nandre Burger, Marco Jansen, Kagiso Rabada and Lungi Ngidi, who threatened India’s batters with pace and bounce, Virat looked extremely comfortable. Could Virat’s next Test peak be on the way? Only time will tell. (ANI)

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