On an overcast morning at the Supersport Park in Centurion, India were reduced to 24/3 thanks to a crazy spell from Nandre Burger before Virat Kohli and Shreyas Iyer showed proficiency in tackling the new ball. However, once that partnership was broken, KL Rahul, batting in his new role as a middle-order batter, took the ownership into his hands to lead India to 208/8 at the end of the day’s play.
His 70 came on the back of another 123 he scored at the same venue a couple of years ago to help India win the first Test of the 2021-22 series. Such was his understanding of the wicket and judgement of his stump that India’s batting coach Vikram Rathour didn’t hesitate to call him India’s crisis man.
"It was always going to be challenging. The weather was an issue. The wicket was under cover for a day or more than that. It was always going to be challenging as a batting group. We would have loved to have a couple of more wickets in hand. But we have done reasonably well," Vikram Rathour said in the day-end press conference.
“Rahul is turning out to be a man of crisis for us. In tough situations, he is the guy who handles it well for us. He was clear with his game plans, defended the right balls and attacked the right ones,”
Virat Kohli didn’t play the practice match as he had to fly back to Mumbai for personal reasons but seemed at home during his 38-run stay. His defense was incredible but a stunning ball from Kagiso Rabada did the trick for him. Rathour backed Kohli, saying he looked in terrific touch.
"The stage of his career, Virat, is I don't think he needs a lot of practice. He bats a lot and trains a lot. So, if he practiced a few days less, doesn't matter much. We saw how well he was playing. It didn't seem he was away from red-ball cricket for six months. It's a good sign," the 54-year-old added.