SOUTHAMPTON — Kagiso Rabada may have found Virat Kohli’s on-field demeanour to be “very immature” but the Indian captain on Tuesday showed enough maturity, refraining from getting into a war of words ahead of their World Cup encounter against South Africa.
Rabada, in a recent interview to a cricket website, had recalled an incident during an IPL game when he felt that Kohli lacked maturity.
“I was just thinking about the game plan, really, but Virat, he hit me for a boundary and then he had a word. And then when you give it back to him, he gets angry. I don’t get the guy. Maybe he does it because it gets him going, but that comes across as very immature for me. He is a phenomenal player but he can’t take the abuse,” Rabada had said.
When a South African scribe popped the question, Kohli first denied having any knowledge of the comment made by the Prateas speedster, but when probed further, the Indian skipper immediately doused the fire.
“Well, I played against him many times and if anything needs to be discussed, we can discuss it man-to-man. I am not using a press conference to answer anything,” Kohli replied.
In fact, he went a step ahead and praised Rabada for being a genuine match-winner for the Proteas.
“Look whether (Lungi) Ngidi plays, or (Dale) Steyn plays or not, Rabada is always going to be a world-class bowler and a threat to any side he plays against. He has the kind of passion and he has a kind of skill-set that he can. On his day, he can go through any batting order,” Kohli said.
“So against guys like Rabada, who can turn up on their day and bowl outstandingly well, you have to be respectful but have that self-belief in yourself as well and that balance will be crucial. Whether he plays with Dale and Ngidi or by himself, he is going to be a skilful bowler,” he added.
When a beleaguered South African skipper Faf du Plessis, already reeling under Steyn’s pull-out and Ngidi’s absence, was posed the question, he managed to keep his sense of humour intact.
“A lot of other things are haunting me at the moment (smiling). Virat is a great player. Virat, whether you say something bad into the media, or you say something good, he is still going to rock up a good player at the match. I don’t think that makes too much of a difference,” the unassuming skipper replied.