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Virat’s ton reminded me of Tendulkar: Donald

SA bowling coach was taken back in time to 1997 Cape Town

Virat Kohli’s century in the first innings of the Wanderers Test reminded many of the man who he was replacing as India’s No. 4 batsman. The biggest compliment came from someone who was involved in many duels with the man Virat has replaced. Former Proteas fast bowler and currently their bowling coach, Allan Donald was taken back in time to 1996-97 as he watched Virat play those glorious shots against the South Africans.

"He (Kohli) showed great discipline and responsibility,” Donald said. “It reminded me of Sachin Tendulkar when they came here in 1996. I was the first one to say back in 1996 that India didn't have much bottle. One person jumped out and played for the situation, played for his team, and that was Tendulkar. That's what came to my mind when I saw Kohli batting," Donald was referring to Tendulkar’s 169 at Cape Town in January 1997.

For Donald, the hallmark of Virat’s knock was the perfect balance between leaving the good balls and attacking the loose ones. "The way Kohli left the ball and when we were slightly off the line he punished the ball. He paced his innings very, very well. He put up his hand today and showed real fight; he was tight and didn't give much away until the end."

While praising the Indian centurion, the Proteas bowling mentor was critical of his own wards. "We were slightly wide and short, probably the widest I have seen outside the off-stump, because the ball was swinging,” he said, adding the match is still in balance. “But the game never really drifted away from us. They are five down, and I will take it.”

Donald credited the Indian batsmen for showing immense patience even as the fast bowlers charged in with the short-balls early in the innings. "It's a mixture of things, having India in trouble early on. Then, it became sloppy in patches as the day went on. India showed a lot of patience, and left the ball really well today. They also played Imran Tahir very well.

"They have learnt from past matches here, and also we needed to find the right areas with the ball. We could have done it better and it was a tough Test match cricket today," he said.

"I thought we stuck to our guns really well, and tomorrow we have to come and make a big play. We need to keep our eyes on the pitch, there are a few cracks. The second new ball has come at the right time, and tomorrow we have to come swinging, and there's no doubt about it," Donald said.

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Best I’ve batted in Test cricket: Virat

India’s centurion says Proteas pacers were not threatening

When India lost their second wicket in the first innings at the Wanderers, cricket watchers world over witnessed an unusual sight. The man walking in to bat was not Sachin Tendulkar. Instead, it was Virat Kohli who, for the first time in his short career, walked in at No.4. The baton had officially been passed. Now it was up to the successor to show he was worthy of it. And Virat replied with a century that reminded Allan Donald of a young Sachin Tendulkar.

"I have been waiting for this opportunity to bat up the order," Kohli said. "It's something that I badly wanted to do in Test cricket because I am so used to going in at No. 3 in ODIs. I like to be in the action early on and get in while conditions are tough and then dictate terms. I had a plan in mind that I wanted to stick to, and wasn't thinking about bowling, conditions, or the wicket. I just wanted to execute my plan."

During his 181-ball knock, Virat displayed patience and guts in equal measure. He stood tall against the barrage of short balls hurled by the Proteas speedsters, pulling the ball with authority and aplomb. He said it was the part of his plan.

"I always had it in mind that we were all going to get short stuff unless you attack them. So rather get out playing your shots than fishing outside the off stump,” Virat said. “I was prepared and I was watching the ball closely. Later on they started bowling at the fifth-sixth [stump], so I don't know where that bodyline bowling went. It is all about dictating terms when you bat. You can't always play under pressure. Let them know you are here to compete. We have shown we have learnt from mistakes, we have practised hard. We stuck to plans, and you will see us improving as we play next."

The confidence that Virat exuded while batting was apparent in his end-of-day press conference too. After walking the walk, Virat talked the talk.
"I don't think they were threatening at all," Kohli said of South Africa's bowling attack. "They are quality bowlers, but it was about respecting the conditions early on when you went in and the kind of bowling you were facing after that. You have got to get in and back yourself throughout. If they are good enough to play at this level, so are you. I had that belief, but had to respect the good balls that are being thrown at you. At the same time, you have got to be aware of cashing in on opportunities that are presented. That was key to my knock today, I latched on to whatever chances came my way, putting them away for boundaries."

Virat’s innings may have lasted only 257 minutes. But its inception began months ago. "Funny because even during the ODIs versus Australia, I was thinking about getting a Test hundred in South Africa," he said. "That was all that was on my mind. I wasn't even focusing on those ODIs or any other games we played against West Indies. Every training session we had I was motivating myself to do something like this. Because I know how special it has been for players to get a hundred in South Africa, it was very pleasing to do so. It is probably the best I have batted in Test cricket till now. It is just about building on to it and it feels nice when you plan something and it comes together, especially against a world-class bowling attack,” Virat beamed.