Former India fast bowler Ashish Nehra says India can rely on Virat Kohli to counter the pace threat when the team tours South Africa early next year.

The 38-year-old added that the green top at Eden Gardens where the ongoing first Test between the home side and Sri Lanka is being played will help India prepare for the daunting test against the Proteas.

Sri Lanka expose India's weakness

India have been struggling to get going in Kolkata as Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal ran through India's top-order on a rain-affected Day 1 (Thursday, November 16). Captain Kohli was dismissed for naught shortly after the hosts lost openers, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan, cheaply.

Medium pacer Dasun Shanaka joined the party on the morning session of Day 2 in overcast conditions as he removed the likes of Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin to leave India reeling at 74 for 5 at Lunch. Cheteshwar Pujara remained solid scoring an unbeaten 47 on a track that has troubled even the best in the business.

'Kohli ready to perform against adversity'

If the struggles at Eden Gardens are anything to go by, India will be under pressure against South Africa, who will host the Asian giants in a three-Test series, starting January 5 after which the two teams will be involved in six ODIs and 3 T20Is.

However, Nehra has backed skipper Kohli to lead the team from the front. Notably, the Delhi batsman was in fine form when India toured South Africa in 2013 as he amassed 272 runs, including a century, from two Tests.

"I don't think India will be under pressure in South Africa. I hear a lot of talk around that but if they have Steyn and Rabada, we have Kohli and he is always ready to perform against adversity," Nehra said, as quoted by IANS.

Virat Kohli
File photo of India captain Virat KohliISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images

He added: "The Eden wicket is good preparation for India's tour of South Africa. There the ball will have carry and have lateral movement. This wicket is giving them a good test of roughly what lies ahead."

Nehra backs Shami to reign supreme

Mohammed Shami Virat Kohli
File photo of Virat Kohli (L) and Mohammed ShamiReuters

Meanwhile, Nehra backed his former teammate Mohammed Shami to lead India's bowling unit from the front during their tour to South Africa.

While the battle between Indian batsmen and South Africa bowlers will be the much talked about one, it will be interesting to see how the Indian pacers, who have been exceptional under Kohli in the recent past, perform under bowler-friendly conditions overseas.

"I expect Shami to come good in South Africa. They have Dale Steyn and overall are a good bowling unit but we have Shami and he is very good too," Nehra said.