Former India cricketer Aakash Chopra has praised Virat Kohli for keeping his ego aside and playing second fiddle to the young wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant on Day 3 of the ongoing third Test against South Africa. Kohli scored 29 runs off 143 while adding a 94-run fifth-wicket partnership with the aggressive Pan, who later scored a stunning century.
While reviewing India’s batting performance in a video shared on his YouTube channel, Aakash Chopra said: “It was absolutely shutter down. The one thing I liked about Kohli is that there is no ego. He said he is the hero but he is happy being the hero’s brother. You play Rishabh Pant, I will play second fiddle. Fantastic Virat Kohli.”
He continued: “He kept on leaving deliveries – so much patience, dedication, determination and to know your off-stump. We have seen very few times that he has played 143 balls and scored 29 runs, even in that he got a boundary each of Rabada and Keshav Maharaj on the legs.”
Virat Kohli, meanwhile, scored only four boundaries during his 29-run knock. Apart from a boundary through the covers, his other three fours came on the leg side as well. However, Aakash Chopra stated that Kohli playing against his nature saw his dismissal.
He explained: “But one more thing was felt that did he go too much into his shell because this is not his nature. His nature is to dominate while playing cricket. You can associate this with Pujara because he keeps leaving deliveries and it doesn’t affect him. Was it the reason that he flirted with a widish delivery because till when will you keep your natural instinct in check. But it was a very good knock because there was a partnership.”
Meanwhile, the veteran was also disappointed with the way the Indian lower-order batters got out. They couldn’t provide the much-needed runs towards the end and support to Pant from the other end.
He said: “Kohli got out and after that, I was disappointed. When there was no expectation of runs from you and no one was asking you to score runs, then it is necessary for you to stand there. You only play shots when you are looking for runs. If Rishabh Pant is playing with you, the pattern of the dismissals is that everyone was playing shots – whether it was Ashwin, Thakur, Bumrah or Shami. Only Umesh Yadav got out while defending, everyone else played shots.”
Notably, both Ravichandran Ashwin and Shardul Thakur got out very cheaply after giving the catches behind the wickets while trying to play an aggressive drive and across the line respectively as well. Even Mohammed Shami played a pull shot, Jasprit Bumrah was dismissed while trying for a hoick as well.
“Even Virat Kohli was not playing shots when he was there with Rishabh Pant. He can play shots but he was not doing that, he allowed him to play and stood at the other end. Till the time Rishabh Pant was there, there was no need for you to go for runs. You might be thinking that a bowler has to take wickets and bat as well. I agree with you but if the team is getting all out and you have the bat in hand, it is also your responsibility to keep standing,” Aakash Chopra concluded.