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India have a problem of plenty for their South Africa tour

India's Virat Kohli (C) holds the trophy after winning the fourth day of the second Test cricket match against New Zealand. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP

India's Virat Kohli (C) holds the trophy after winning the fourth day of the second Test cricket match against New Zealand. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP

Published Dec 6, 2021

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By Sudipto Ganguly

Mumbai - India face a problem of plenty for their upcoming trip to South Africa having beaten New Zealand at home despite resting a number of regulars, but captain Virat Kohli said it was a "good headache to have".

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The hosts were without Kohli in the first of the two tests, while batter Rohit Sharma, wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant and fast bowlers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami were rested for both matches against New Zealand.

Despite the absences India came agonisingly close to victory in the opening match at Kanpur before thumping the world test champions by 372 runs to win the series 1-0.

The success of fringe players has left Kohli's India in a good space as they head to South Africa in a week's time for a three-test series.

"Those are discussions we are going to have now with the selectors," Kohli told reporters. "It is a good headache to have. We have to have clarity with these things.

"Always good to know exactly what you want to do before heading to a series like South Africa."

Batters Mayank Agarwal and Shreyas Iyer and spin-bowling all-rounders Axar Patel and Jayant Yadav grabbed their chance with both hands and have staked claims for selection for the trip.

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Kohli said he was pleased by the hunger shown by the younger players to do well in the longest format.

"To play test cricket you need passion and intent. Indian cricket is in safe hands when you have so many people who have that. People are hungry to play tests well," Kohli, 33, said.

"It's nice to see youngsters want to feel what it is to play tests. That's how they understand why it's called the toughest format, most respectful format."

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The only worry for India ahead of the South Africa tests will be Ajinkya Rahane's batting form, with pundits calling for the middle-order batter to be axed.

Kohli said the team would back his deputy, who has not scored a fifty in his last six test innings.

"I can't judge his form. No one can judge it. Only the individual knows what he's going through," Kohli said. "We need to back them in these moments, especially when they have done well in the past.

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"We don't react to criticisms or praise, whatever happens outside doesn't affect us. We support everybody in the side, Ajinkya or anyone."

Reuters

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