Kohli’s Burger preparation…: India’s strategy for 2nd SA Test revealed | Cricket

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Dean Elgar’s well-fought 185 and Kagiso Rabada’s inspiring five-wicket may have taken centre stage in South Africa‘s win by an innings and 32 runs in Centurion last week, which subsequently put the hosts in an unassailable 1-0 lead in the two-match contest, but debutant Nandre Burger made a considerable impact across both the innings where India managed just 245 and 131 runs. The left-armer picked seven wickets in the match, as many as Rabada, three in the first innings and an impressive 4 for 33 in just 10 overs in the second.

Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj were all present in India's optional net session in Newlands on Monday
Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj were all present in India’s optional net session in Newlands on Monday

Left-arm pace variety has always hurt Indian batters across formats, and despite Virat Kohli managing eight boundaries against Burger in the first Test, dealing better with the fast bowler seemed to be his top priority on Monday when the former India captain led the centre-wicket practice in Cape Town, where India will play their second and final game of the series starting Wednesday.

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Despite it being an optional training session in Newlands, Kohli had an extended batting session that lasted close to an hour which comprised of center-pitch practice against bowlers, followed by high-intensity throwdowns for about 20 to 25 minutes at outside nets. And his centre-wicket session included batting against a local fast bowler of left-arm variety, in a bid to gear up for facing Burger, coupled with deliveries from Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, R Ashwin and Avesh Khan.

However, the young net bowler provided by Cricket South Africa (CSA) was far slower in terms of pace compared to Burger, hence it allowed Kohli to repeatedly step out of the crease and take on the deliveries over mid-wicket.

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Shreyas Iyer may have brushed having a weakness against short-pitched deliveries during a press conference at the ODI World Cup, but the India batter, who scored 31 and 5 in the first Test, was exposed to the variety in Centurion.

On Monday, he looked in great discomfort when Nuwan Senaviratne, the Sri Lankan left-arm side-armer, delivered from 18 yards out and Iyer was hit on his stomach while looking to play the pull shot. In fact, all the throwdown specialists bowled to him from 18 yards and failed to show enough confidence.

Meanwhile, he fast bowlers, especially Bumrah and Siraj, who were seen bowling in tandem to Kohli and Shubman Gill during the centre-wicket practice, were seen targetting the length between 6 and 8 metres, and they maintained their lengths in their spell of five overs each during the session that lasted close to 30 minutes. Ravichandran Ashwin, on the other hand, was looking for a more fuller length against the batters.

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