Bengaluru, Nov 18: India Test captain Virat Kohli today came out in support of opening batsman Shikhar Dhawan, calling him an "impact player" and stated that the left-hander was not out of form despite bagging a pair in the 1st Test against South Africa in Mohali.
After 4 continuous days of no action in the 2nd Test in Bengaluru due to rain and wet outfield, the match expectedly ended in a draw today (November 18). India hold a 1-0 lead going into the 3rd Test in Nagpur (November 25) in the 4-match series.
Speaking to the media after a disappointing and frustrating match, Kohli praised Dhawan. "If you call scoring 2 hundreds (173 and 134) in 3 Test matches struggling I don't know what is in form. Because in his last 3 Test matches, he has got a hundred (134) in Galle, he got a hundred (173) in Bangladesh. Unfortunately he got injured after that," Kohli said in defence of Dhawan, who was out for 2 ducks in Mohali.
In the only innings of Bengaluru Test, Dhawan was not out on 45. He looked good at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in the brief innings which could not be resumed due to bad weather.
"He (Dhawan) played his first Test in Mohali after that (injury). So, let us not be hard at someone just because of just 2 or 3 innings. This is international cricket and he is going to play numerous number of innings," he added.
The skipper said the team needs to be patient with Dhawan, who has the ability to win Test matches for the country.
"We have to be patient with players like Shikhar because he is an impact player. And we need to give him as much confidence as we possibly can. When he gets going he wins you the game. That is a surety. I don't think he has been out of form at all. He has been batting beautifully.
"Sometimes you will not get the scores you desire, but it is important to have you playing at that moment. He is certainly hitting the ball very very well. As I said, he got runs here which is good for his mental setup. We don't see any issues with his batting or his confidence for sure.
"So we have to sort of let the individual come into his own and not put too much pressure. I am sure he is happy with the way he batted here. If he had more overs to bat he would have been 70 or 80 not out or possibly would have got a hundred. I am delighted that he is feeling good about his batting. I am sure he would want to score big runs in this series and in future too," opined Kohli.
The 29-year-old Dhawan has so far played 17 Tests scoring 1,203 runs at an average of nearly 43. He has 4 hundreds and 2 half centuries. He began his career with a bang - smashing 187 against Australia in Mohali in March 2013.