Virat Kohli is running high on confidence following his century in the opening game against Pakistan © Getty Images
Virat Kohli is running high on confidence following his century in the opening game against Pakistan © Getty Images

By Kushan Sarkar

Melbourne: His mohawk hairdo caught the eye as much as his wide range of shots, but Virat Kohli was focus personified while feasting on the spinners at the nets here today, as India geared up to take on a traditionally pace-heavy South Africa in their next cricket World Cup match.

Although it is not clear whether the South African team management team would play either leg-spinner Imran Tahir or left-arm spinner Aaron Phangiso in their playing XI, the Indian top-order batting, led by premier batsman Kohli, had a field day against spinners, rather than the pacers, at the nets.

At the Junction Oval ground at St Kilda, Kohli hammered the spinners into the submission even as other specialist batsmen enjoyed their stint at the nets.

It was a day when the centre nets saw bulk of the bowling being done by reserve spinner Akshar Patel, part-time off-spinner Suresh Raina and the net bowlers.

The Indians batted in sets of two with one batsman taking strike for around six deliveries before the other one would get in and hit his share of balls.

Kohli and Rahane were bracketed in a group and they treated Axar and Raina with disdain. Most of the time, Kohli was seen charging down the track and hitting over the in-field.

While Kohli got his timing right on most occasions when he took the aerial route, Rahane was more intent on hitting through the ground.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and opener Rohit Sharma later batted in a group but none of the other Indian batsman had the dominance of Kohli at the nets.

Kohli’s century against Pakistan in the team’s opening encounter of the tournament must have done his confidence a world of good and that showed in the manner he batted at the nets. It was that of supreme confidence and swagger of a man who now has a phenomenal 32 international hundreds (22 ODIs and 10 Test tons).

While the Indian team management clarified about Bhuvneshwar Kumar being fit and available for selection, his performances and participation at the net session left a lot to be desired.

Just like previous day’s training, the UP seamer didn’t bowl to any of the top-order batsmen save Raina, who bowled a lot and then fielded before having a bat at the nets.

Bhuvneshwar primarily bowled to Axar, who repeatedly pulled his short deliveries which didn’t have the required pace to trouble the Gujarat all-rounder, who is known to be susceptible against genuine quick bowling.

While he may be available for selection it looks highly unlikely that he is in a situation to last 100 overs of high-intensity ODI cricket. The other giveaway regarding Bhuvneshwar’s fitness is the presence of 16th member of the squad, Dhawal Kulkarni.

Had Bhuvneshwar been completely fit, India would not have been the only team in the competition to carry a 16th member on their own as the ICC only pays for 15 members only. The Mumbai seamer, in fact, bowled more deliveries than his UP counterpart.

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