Give the guy a break – Kohli leaps to Rohit's defence

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Rohit Sharma scored 303 runs in the first Test and India captain Virat Kohli believes that should buy him a reprieve from scrutiny.
Rohit Sharma scored 303 runs in the first Test and India captain Virat Kohli believes that should buy him a reprieve from scrutiny.

Virat Kohli leapt to the defence of India team-mate Rohit Sharma, urging people to "give the guy a break" ahead of the second Test with South Africa.

Sharma hit consecutive centuries in the first meeting as India romped to a 203-run victory in the three-match series.

That fine display arrived at a time when his form in the longest format was coming under intense scrutiny, although he was the top run scorer at the Cricket World Cup. 

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Captain Kohli now wants Rohit to be given the chance to enjoy his cricket in the Test arena once again.

"Come on, give the guy a break now," he said ahead of the second Test in Pune, which begins on Thursday. 

"You know he's done well, let him enjoy his batting, let him have fun like he does in white-ball cricket. Stop focusing on what's Rohit's going to do in Tests.

"I think he's in a great space, he's playing really well. He looked relaxed in the first game which is great to see.

"The experience he's accumulated over the years came to the fore."

Proteas skipper Faf du Plessis saw his side concede the initiative on day one of the first Test, with India racking up 317 runs before losing a wicket.

The hosts went on to declare on 502-7, leaving South Africa with a mountain to climb and it was a summit they could not scale.

However, Du Plessis is confident his team will bounce back.

"Obviously, we didn't get 20 wickets in the previous match, that is something that we aware of and something that we are trying to fix," he said.

"At the end of the day, taking wickets wins you Test matches so our thinking will be trying to pick players that can influence the game and win matches for the team.

"We are a team that is very resilient and we come back almost always."

The tourists will need to overcome the considerable weight of recent history if they are to triumph overall, with India looking to extend their eight-series winning streak on home soil in Tests.

India have not lost a home Test series since 2012, when England prevailed. 

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