India skipper Virat Kohli has confirmed his availability for the third and final Test of the ongoing series against South Africa in Cape Town starting Tuesday, 11 January.
After missing the second Test in Johannesburg with an upper back spasm, Kohli will return to lead the side in the series decider, with the visitors looking to make history. India have never won a Test series in South Africa, but have a chance to do so this time around, with the series levelled at 1-1.
Kohli's form has been a topic of discussion for a while now with the skipper having gone more than two years without an international hundred. On the eve of the Test, Kohli, who is due to play his 99th Test match, stated in the press conference that he does not "need to prove anything to anyone".
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“It’s not the first time [that his form has been in discussion]. England 2014 is one of those phases," Kohli said while addressing the media. "I don’t look at myself from the lenses that the outside world looks at me.
“In sport, sometimes, things don’t go as you want but as a batter, I have been involved in important partnerships when the team needs me. I am in a position where people will judge me but I don’t look at myself like that."
Kohli had put on a half-century stand with KL Rahul in the first innings in Centurion after walking in to face a hat-trick ball. There's less clarity on who Kohli will replace in the XI, but the skipper revealed that there's likely at least one change in the bowling attack for India with Mohammed Siraj still recovering from the hamstring injury he sustained at The Wanderers.
“Siraj is obviously recovering from the [hamstring] niggle he had in the last game and at present, I don’t think he is match-ready to take the field in the third Test," said Kohli. "You cannot obviously risk a guy who is not at 110 percent as a fast bowler and we know how important that is as the little niggle he had can extend into an injury.
“As I said, we are yet to sit down, myself, the head coach, and vice-captain to decide what we want to do about the replacement," he said when asked who would replace the quick bowler.
“And I say that because of our bench strength and it’s difficult for us to figure out as everyone is bowling well, batting well, these things become a point of contention and we need to have a healthy discussion on a decision on that and just that everyone feels balanced about it. But I am happy being in this position sitting here trying to decide who is going to play rather than having other options."
The third and final Test match will be India's sixth Test in Cape Town. They have never won a Test at the Newlands, losing three of the five Tests, including their last outing at the venue in 2018.