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All eyes on Virat Kohli as just a batter as ODI series begins


Paarl, January 18

The mighty Virat Kohli’s presence in the Indian playing XI as a mere player for the first time in seven years will be keenly followed while his potential successor in red-ball cricket, KL Rahul, will be judged for his captaincy in the three-match ODI series against South Africa, which begins here tomorrow.

3 Yuzvendra Chahal needs three wickets to become the 23rd Indian player to take 100 wickets in ODIs.

9 Kohli (5057) needs nine runs to surpass Sachin Tendulkar (5065) and become India’s highest run-getter in away ODIs.

18 Quinton de Kock is 18 runs away from reaching 10,500 runs across formats.

Whether he is batting or fielding, Kohli attracts eyeballs by the millions but some of that attention will be shared by Rahul.

It will be the 1st time that KL Rahul will be captaining India in an ODI. BCCI

Will Kohli be his usual animated self on the field or will the cricketing world see a subdued Kohli after he abruptly resigned the Test captaincy? He did not want to leave the ODI captaincy after relinquishing the role in the T20 format, and it led to a war of words with the BCCI on how the matter was handled.

For the good of the team and Indian cricket, hopefully Kohli has put his differences with the BCCI behind him and would start a new innings tomorrow, with his willow doing most of the talking. An elusive century after two years would be the cherry on the cake.

Always a leader

Rahul, who is leading the side in the absence of an injured Rohit Sharma, is expected to turn to Kohli for advice during the series. As vice-captain Jasprit Bumrah said on the eve of the series, Kohli “will always be a leader” in the team.

With a new leadership and support staff, India will look to win the series with one eye on preparations for the 2023 World Cup. They would also want to make up for the disappointment of unexpectedly going down in the Test series last week.

The last time a full-strength Indian team played an ODI series was at home against England last March. Rahul batted in the middle-order against England but today he made it clear that he’d move back to the top of the order alongside Shikhar Dhawan. That means Ruturaj Gaikwad will have to wait for his ODI debut. It will be crucial three games for the seasoned Dhawan, who has already lost his place in the T20 side.

The two spinners likely to get into the XI are Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin, back in the team after over four years. — PTI

‘As captain, will try to take team forward’

Paarl: KL Rahul, the stand-in skipper of the Indian ODI team, today said he hasn’t given a serious thought to the idea of being the Test team’s full-time captain — but if given the opportunity, he’d try to take the team and Indian cricket forward. The 29-year old led India in the second Test in the recent Test series against South Africa in Virat Kohli’s absence. Now that Kohli has stepped down as the Test captain, Rahul is seen as a potential candidate for the job, along with Rohit Sharma. “I had not given it a thought till the names came out, till the articles or news have been doing the rounds. Obviously, I had the opportunity to lead the Test side in Johannesburg and it was something really, really special,” said Rahul in a press conference. “To lead the country is a dream come true. However, I am not really looking for anything at this time but if it happens to come, I will try my best to carry Team India and Indian cricket forward to the best of my abilities,” he added. TNS, agencies

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