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By Nick Said
CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - India captain Virat Kohli has batted away criticism of his recent form and says he is "at peace with my game" heading into the decisive third test against South Africa at Newlands on Tuesday.
Middle order batsman Kohli will return to the side after back spasms ruled him out of the seven wicket defeat in the second test in Johannesburg that left the teams level at 1-1 and India in the hunt for a first series victory in South Africa.
He does so with an average of only 26.08 in 14 tests since the start of 2020, well below his career mark of 50.34. But the 33-year-old said it is not the first time his place has been under scrutiny.
"It has happened a few times in my career. England in 2014 was one of those. But I don’t look at myself through the lens that the outside world sees me," Kohli told reporters on Monday.
"The standards we are talking about today have been set by myself. In sport, sometimes things do not go the way you want them to. But I have been part of important (batting) partnerships when the team has needed me.
"Those moments have been crucial for us in many test matches. If you are always going to judge yourself on the basis of numbers and milestones, you will never be content.
"I am at peace with how I am playing and what I am able to do for the team when there is a tricky scenario. I have nothing else to worry about. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone."
Kohli has revealed that fast bowler Mohammed Siraj will miss the third test with the hamstring injury he suffered in Johannesburg.
One of Ishant Sharma or Umesh Yadav are likely to get the nod as a replacement.
"I don't think he (Siraj) is match ready and you can't risk a guy who is not at 110% as a fast bowler. We are yet to sit down to decide what we want to do about the replacement," Kohli said.
"It is difficult to figure out who we play because everybody is at the top of their game."
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Christian Radnedge)