Gary Kirsten has seen Virat Kohli as a precocious talent who later evolved into a premier batsman and that’s the reason why the former India coach termed him as a “stand out player” who has got the “x-factor“.
“I am very pleased for Virat. He has worked a lot on his game and is a stand-out batsman in world cricket today. He is one of those cricketers with x-factor who doesn’t get himself out.
“You have to get him out as he doesn’t give away his wicket,” Kirsten, who is currently coaching South Africa, told the mediapersons on the eve of the match against India.
Due to his hugely successful coaching stint with the Indian team, the question was asked whether the Proteas will have an advantage, but the former opener sounded pretty dismissive.
“There is enough information available on every player to be analysed at length. There is internet, there are recordings of matches available. So there are plenty of options and I don’t think we (Kirsten and mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton) have anything unique to offer. Our focus should be to understand each other and play well.”
Questioned on Virender Sehwag being dropped from the team for the Australia match, Kirsten presented a dead bat. “I am not going to answer that question.”
South Africa have lost back-to-back matches and the coach was forthright in admitting that they had to “make good decisions“.
“We had a chance of winning both games and we let it slip. When we left the South African shores for the World T20, everyone said it is a balanced side. The main thing is that we haven’t played well during key moments. We had Pakistan seven down for 60-odd and we should have won that match.”
About the positives that have emerged from the match, he said that his batsmen have done well despite losing early wickets.
“We played really well against Australia after losing early wickets. I though 150 was a par-score and we got to 146 which was good enough to make it competitive. We should have closed both games after making good starts.”
Left-arm spinners Raza Hassan and Xavier Doherty had troubled the South African batsmen in the two matches but Kirsten insisted that playing them wasn’t a problem.
“It would be very difficult to answer that but we have played well against left-arm spinners. It’s not that there is a lot of turn but the off-ball gripping to the surface. We do have batsmen who are capable of playing high quality innings.”
South African teams over the years haven’t done well in the sub-continent and that has got to do with not being able to adapt properly in these conditions.
“The teams from sub-continent do well in these conditions that they have grown up since childhood just like we do well in South Africa. Over the years, we have travelled enough in these conditions to know what is expected but we need to execute that properly.
“It’s not like that you come for an odd-tour and try to adapt. Look at Shane Watson. He has played so much in these conditions that he is playing beautifully.”
Asked whether he likes the T20 format, he replied, “It’s a great format which requires a different skill set altogether. Test cricket is more like a battle of attrition where strategy doesn’t have a major role but in T20 strategy plays an important part.”