Virat Kohli vs South Africa Pacers will be Crucial – Gibbs

Herschelle Gibbs was always an advocate of power-hitting at the top of the order. Over 8,000 runs in 248 ODIs with 21 centuries -most of them as an opener -sum up Gibbs’ class and utility for South Africa for close to two decades.

His international career might have come to an end but Gibbs can’t wait to sit with a bottle of beer at his home in Cape Town to watch India and South Africa square off at the MCG on Sunday . For the former Deccan Chargers and Mumbai Indians star, the match at the `G’ will be a battle of flashing willows.

“India and South Africa are two of the biggest teams in the tournament and definitely the two favourites. The MCG will be buzzing on Sunday and kind of batting talent that we have in the two sides, it’ll definitely be a high-scoring encounter,” Gibbs told TOI from Cape Town on Thursday .

Gibbs believes there are ‘mini-battles’ that will ultimately decide the fate of this contest. For starters, there’s the contest between the two sets of the openers.

“(Hashim) Amla has been in sensational touch over the last six months and Quinton de Kock always loves Indian bowling, as his three tons on the trot in South Africa show us. The Indian openers are equally dangerous as I believe Shikhar (Dhawan) is finding his touch just at the right time,” Gibbs, who scored 1,067 runs against India at an average of 44, said.

The biggest hurdle for South Africa, feels Gibbs, is Virat Kohli. SA are the only team against whom Kohli doesn’t have a ODI century and the Indian vice-captain will be eager to rectify that record. “The performance of South African pacers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel against Kohli could be critical. Kohli is a big-match player and SA know it,” he added.

Gibbs is not concerned about his team’s middle order and believes Michael Hussey’s addition as a consultant was unnecessary.(David) Miller and (JP) Duminy have been in phenomenal form and have been fully utilizing the powerplay as well as the death overs. That’s why I believe that Hussey will not be able to add much value in this department.

“My cause for concern is the lower middle-order, which is quite light compared to other stronger teams like Australia. We don’t seem to have quality all-rounders to fill this void at the moment,” the Cape Cobras batsman said.