India head coach Rahul Dravid backed Virat Kohli to convert his starts into big scores very soon as he waved off the criticism surrounding the Test captain's batting form and his feud with the BCCI over ODI captaincy.
Kohli is yet to attend a pre-match press conference since he was replaced by Rohit Sharma as India's ODI captain ahead of the South Africa tour. Dravid on Sunday said that Kohli has been fully switched on since arriving for the series.
"I know there's been a lot of noise on other issues outside of the group, even leading into this particular Test match. But honestly, in terms of keeping the morale high, it's not been very difficult because it's been led by the skipper himself," Dravid said ahead of the second Test in Johannesburg.
"Virat has been absolutely phenomenal over the over the last 20 days that we've been here. The way he's trained the way he's practised the way he's connected with the group. He has been phenomenal and I could not speak more highly of him," he added.
Dravid did not answer the reason behind Kohli's media absence and said he would be present ahead of the third Test in Cape Town which will be his 100th Test.
"There is no specific reason for that. I don't decide this but I am told he will be speaking on eve of his 100th Test. Then you can ask all the questions on his 100th Test."
Ahead of the tour, Kohli took to social media saying he was never asked to reconsider leaving T20 captaincy as asserted by BCCI President Sourav Ganguly. Chief selector Chetan Sharma added fuel to the controversy by saying that Kohli was requested to hold his decision by everyone in the Board at least till the end of the T20 World Cup.
Speaking about Kohli's batting slump, Dravid said that there has been nothing wrong with the captain's preparation in the nets.
"As coach, there's not really too much you can do once the game starts... there's not too much that you can control in the results...we're really looking to prepare well and get the team into a good space," Dravid said.
"...the way he's committed to his own preparation, his own practice. And also just the way he's connected with the group over the last two weeks on and off the field. He has truly been a fantastic leader.
"So, that's really helped in creating a really good space leading into the first Test match. A lot of that was led by Virat and his leadership really came to the fore. It's been a pleasure to work with someone like him."
The legendary batter was confident that Kohli can turn things around very soon.
"Even personally, he's in a really good space and even though he sort of batted well and couldn't convert those starts, I feel there's going to be big runs, really good scores coming in from someone like him.
"Just observing him around the group, how relaxed, how calm he has been and how he's preparing and how switched on he is, it (big score) might not happen in the next game. I would really hope it happens in the next game.
"But I do feel with someone like him we're going to see really big scores."