Virat game for South Africa tour

Says facing the No. 1 Test team will show where India stand.


India's proposed tour to South Africa, at the end of this year, is an eagerly awaited one. But with the BCCI scheduling a series against the West Indies at home in November and the New Zealand tour starting on January 19, the face-off with the No. 1 Test team has been put in doubt.

But if Virat Kohli is to be believed, the players are eagerly looking forward to facing the Proteas as it will enable them to test their mettle against the best.

"Definitely, that (South Africa series) is something that we all are looking forward to. I hope things work out and we get to play at least some games in South Africa," Kohli said on the sidelines of a promotional event here on Tuesday.

"But I can’t take a call on that. Let’s wait for the decision. All we can do is be prepared. We have had that series in mind for a long time. It is something that will set the standards for the Indian team going forward because it is a very young team. I am really looking forward to it."

***

HOWEVER, before the West Indies series another important assignment that beckons India is the limited-over series against Australia, starting on October 10, which includes one T20I and seven ODIs.

But they will be without the services of Michael Clarke, who is nursing a back injury. Virat, however, feels that despite the skipper’s absence Australia will be a tough nut to crack.

"Clarke is one of their main players but apart from him they have other match-winners also. It will be a tough challenge for us," he said.

***

'I will be looking to play alongside Tendulkar in his 200th Test' The Australia series will also see the comeback of Yuvraj Singh to the national fold after nine months and Kohli said he had no doubts that the dashing left-handers would make an impact.

"I am happy about the way Yuvi regained his fitness. For the six weeks that he spent in France for regaining fitness along with Zaheer Khan, he had no contact with others and just focused on his goal. He put in his effort and got the result," he said.

Kohli said the others Indian players are also fresh before facing the Aussies after a rest of almost two months.

"After the rest, I have only started concentrating on cricket in the last 15 to 20 days. We have a hectic season ahead and are excited about it. Most of the players have got almost two months of rest which was needed before this long season," he said.

The West Indies series in November may see Sachin Tendulkar playing his 200th Test.

Kohli said he was eager to be in the team for that game.

"He has set records upon records. Nobody in the history of cricket has achieved so much and the milestone of playing 200 Tests is truly a commendable one. He is the most deserving player for the achievement," he said.

"He has always been my idol and I am looking forward to the day when I will play in that Test with him."

However, in Indian cricket the on-field action is not the only aspect that is making news. Off-field controversies like spot-fixing have also rocked the sport as even BCCI president N. Srinivasan’s son-in-law and Chennai Super Kings team principal Gurunath Meiyappan’s name came up in the investigation.

Kohli feels the guilty should be punished. "I cannot comment on any other team. Whoever is accused and is guilty should get the most stringent of punishments. You can never be disrespectful to the sport," he said.

"However, I am no one to comment on the internal matters of a team because I don’t know the set-up of the team."

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