Makhaya Ntini, the former South African pacer renowned for his straightforward approach, offers a unique perspective on how to handle Virat Kohli and his predictions for South Africa’s chances in the upcoming World Cup. In his candid interview, Ntini reveals his unfiltered thoughts on these cricketing topics.
Amidst discussions on how to face the formidable Virat Kohli, Ntini’s advice stands out for its distinctiveness. He urges bowlers to refrain from sledding Kohli, as it can backfire. Ntini’s reasoning is intriguing: he believes Kohli thrives on confrontation, and by avoiding it, bowlers can potentially induce boredom in him. According to Ntini, when Kohli doesn’t find the engagement he seeks, he might make errors in judgment. This tactic, Ntini claims, can be more effective in dismissing the Indian batting maestro than traditional verbal battles.
“Don’t sledge Virat Kohli. Any bowler who sledge him will have to pay the price. If you don’t sledge and just let him be, he could get bored and make a mistake,” said Virat Kohli while speaking to Revsportz on the Backstage With Boria show.
Switching gears to South Africa’s World Cup campaign, Ntini highlights Anrich Nortje’s talent but offers a constructive critique. Nortje, in Ntini’s view, needs to bowl longer. Ntini’s prediction is bold: If Nortje can adjust and bowl a slightly fuller length, he could become the tournament’s standout player, making significant contributions as a bowler and an all-around performer.
And then adds, “Let me tell you something about Virat Kohli, something I will tell every South African bowler who will bowl to him. Don’t say a word to him when he is batting. I repeat, don’t sledge him by saying anything to him. If you do so you are actually playing into his hands. He wants the sledge if you know him. He wants the combat and loves such things. If you do so, you are actually giving in to what he wants and it will only make him that much more determined and he will make you pay. Rather, just keep silent against him. When he sees a bowler not say things, he will get bored. He needs action in the middle to be at his best. When he doesn’t get it, he will find it boring and that’s when he can make a mistake. With players like him you need to be smart and not do the things that you will do with other batters. So when you bowl to him try and stay silent and make him feel bored. That’s your best chance of getting him out.”
“My four semi-finalists are South Africa, India, Australia and Pakistan,” says Ntini.
“Anrich Nortje is bowling a tad too short. If he bowls slightly up and whoever is coaching him should tell him that, he can run through any batting line up in the world. Let me make a prediction here. Anrich Nortje could well be the player of the tournament. Not simply the bowler of the tournament but also the man of the tournament. Just one suggestion for him- he is still bowling a little short. Whoever is his coach needs to tell him to go a little more fuller. If he does so, the talent and pace that he has, Anrich can run through any batting line up during the world cup. I will not be surprised if he wins South Africa a few matches single-handedly.”
Ntini exudes confidence in South Africa’s World Cup chances, asserting that this tournament presents their best opportunity to clinch the trophy. The IPL experience of South African players, which familiarizes them with Indian conditions, is cited as a pivotal advantage. Ntini emphasizes the balanced team, boasting potent fast bowlers like Rabada, Nortje, and Ngidi and skilled spinners like Maharaj and Shamsi. The batting lineup with talents such as De Kock, Bavuma, and Miller further bolsters Ntini’s optimism. Bavuma’s leadership qualities also come under the spotlight, as Ntini lauds his ability to create a cohesive team environment and manage players effectively.
He also says this is South Africa’s best chance to win the World Cup. “I actually think South Africa has their best chance in this World Cup to bring the trophy home. It is for the reason you mention that they are going to be the best prepared. Each one of them play the IPL and spend more than two months playing in Indian conditions. These pitches are not alien to them. They know what to expect and how to deal with the conditions on offer. And the team has serious talent. In the fast bowling department Rabada, Nortje and Ngidi are as good as any line up in the world and in spin we have Maharaj and Shamsi. The batting with De Kock, Bavuma, Miller is extremely good and Bavuma is a very good captain. So when you look at the balance you know why I am saying South Africa has a very good chance.”
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Ntini acknowledges the South African women’s cricket team’s success in reaching the World Cup final, stating that their achievements have set a high bar for the men’s team. This achievement, Ntini believes, adds positive pressure on the men’s team to perform well and strive for success. Ntini characterizes this healthy rivalry between the two teams as a catalyst for enhancing the overall quality of South African cricket.
Makhaya Ntini’s unvarnished insights offer a refreshing take on cricketing strategies and team dynamics. His advice to bowlers facing Kohli underscores the psychological aspect of the game, highlighting the importance of mind games. Moreover, his optimism about South Africa’s World Cup prospects sheds light on the team’s preparation, balance, and leadership. As cricket enthusiasts eagerly await the tournament, Ntini’s candid perspective adds a layer of anticipation and excitement.