Former India captain Sunil Gavaskar has praised Virat Kohli for scoring his fifth Test century which came under pressure at Johannesburg on Wednesday. Kohli, who batted at No.4 position, a spot occupied by retired Sachin Tendulkar for more than two decades responded to the challenge beautifully after India were reduced to 24 for two by the South African pacers. (Read Day 1 report)
"Sachin Tendulkar would have been very proud of the way (Virat) Kohli played. He was quick to make good use of the loose ball and played wonderfully on this track," Gavaskar told NDTV. (Highlights)
Kohli became the eighth Indian to score a ton in the Rainbow Nation and third at the Wanderers. This is Kohli's second hundred in 2013, with his previous one coming against Australia in Chennai in February. Having scored just 31 runs in the two One-Day Internationals versus South Africa, pressure was mounting on Kohli's shoulders as an entire nation prepared itself to see a new face walking out at the fall of the second wicket (Murali Vijay). (Also read: I refer batting up the order, says Kohli)
Kohli showed a great amount of patience and was solid on the back foot. Gavaskar said the 25-year-old did the right things while facing the fiery pace of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel. "If you don't play well off the back foot, then you will struggle in South Africa," Gavaskar said.
Kohli hit 18 fours and faced 181 balls to defy the Proteas, sharing an 89-run stand with Cheteshwar Pujara (25) for the third wicket and putting on 68 for the fifth wicket with Ajinkya Rahane. (Pictures)
The former India skipper termed partnership with Pujara as an important one but Kohli maintained his focus after the Saurashtra lad got run out. "Good players put setbacks behind them and Virat did well to get a hundred after losing Pujara," the NDTV expert said.
Before the start of the Test series in South Africa many doubted that India's weakness against fast bowling would be exposed when they face Steyn and company during the two-match Test series. But Gavaskar was quick to say that Kohli proved his critics wrong.
"Virat's innings has shown that the perception that India can't play fast bowling is totally wrong," he said.
The 64-year-old Mumbaikar said that the Indian skipper made the right decision to bat first and also had a piece of advice for Shikhar Dhawan, who got out to a short ball.
"(Mahendra Singh) Dhoni read the pitch right and his decision to bat was a statement to South Africa.
"Shikhar Dhawan needs to realise that the pull shot is not the best choice for him against the short ball," Gavaskar said.