Southampton: Captain Virat Kohli has identified one bowler in the South African team who can be a threat to the Indian batsmen in their opening game of the ICC World Cup 2019 on Wednesday (June 5).

Kohli, speaking to the media on the eve of the match in Southampton on Tuesday, heaped praise on fast bowler Kagiso Rabada and said he could be a threat to not only to India but other teams as well.

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South Africa are hampered by the absence of Dale Steyn, who is ruled out of the entire World Cup while Lungi Ngidi too is not fit for India’s game. However, there was good news for the Proteas as Hashim Amla was cleared to play. He had sustained an injury against England.

“Look whether Ngidi plays, or Steyn plays or not, Rabada is always going to be a world-class bowler and a threat to any side he plays against,” Kohli said.

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“He has the kind of passion and he has a kind of skill-set that he can, on his day, go through any batting order, so we've played well against him in past and that is only because we have been respectful of his skills. But at the same time, we have been assured and sure of what we want to do as batsmen.

“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. We always need to respect that and find ways of scoring against him,” he added.

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Recently, there were reports of Rabada calling Kohli “immature” after they had played against each other during the Indian Premier League (IPL). When a journalist asked for Kohli’s response to Rabada’s comments, the Indian skipper handled it well and brushed it off.

“What did he say?,” Kohli asked and added, “Well, I played against him many times and if anything needs to be discussed, we can discuss it man-to-man. I'm not using a press conference to answer anything.”


Rabada had told espncricinfo, “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.”