The upcoming mega series between India and South Africa, which starts on 2 October, is expected to be top notch with some world class cricketers in action from both the teams. Former South African coach Ray Jennings believes Virat Kohli is going to be the key batsman for India.
The Indian batsman, who has been shouldering the batting responsibility for some time, needs to be on top of his game against a strong South African bowling attack, which includes Dale Steyn, who is one of the most feared bowlers in world cricket.
Cricket fans around the world are eager to witness a Kohli versus Steyn clash in the series. It is due to such head-to-head contests, such bilateral series become even more interesting.
"He has tremendous belief in himself. There's no doubt Virat will be the key man for India in this series," Jennings told The Times of India in an interview.
The series, which comprises three T20s, five ODIs and four Test matches, will have two captains for India. MS Dhoni will lead the side in the ODI and the T20 formats and Kohli will take over the role in the longer format of the game. After Dhoni retired from Test cricket late last year, Kohli has been handed over the captaincy of the Test team.
It was under Kohli that the Indian team won a historic series against Sri Lanka after a gap of 22 years. The Delhi batsman was praised for his leadership during the series and the same is expected from Kohli during the Test series in November, which is going to be his biggest test so far.
Jennings was all praise for Kohli, who he believes has a good cricket brain.
"Virat is a fighter. He has got excellent cricketing brain. He analyses the situation well. His work ethics are very good. These are all the qualities of a good captain. We know Virat has one or two weaknesses and I am sure he will address those in the coming years. He is very passionate about his cricket and India will be benefitted with his fighting spirit," said Jennings.
The Indian team has been a flexible unit of late and is not afraid to ask the batsmen to bat out of their comfort zone. To be honest, the Indian team has adapted to such changes even when it comes to bowling as they played with five bowlers in the last series against Sri Lanka.
"They have got a correct batting line-up presently. They tried different players in No. 5, No. 6 and No. 7 positions. The good thing about Indian cricket is they have depth and quality to put the game plan together. (Ravi) Shastri is a very clever and shrewd individual and it's showing in the selection and combinations of the team," said Jennings.
One of the main reasons for the Indian team doing fairly well of late has been its depth in the squad. Players like Cheteshwar Pujara have not been able to find a permanent place in the playing eleven, which reflects the quality of the team as well.
"At the moment, they have depth both in bowling and batting and there's a healthy competition among the players for places.
"You look at Pujara. He is a quality cricketer. He was left out of team but came back and played a match-winning knock. Then you have KL Rahul, who has shown signs of becoming a good player," Jennings said.