The Leading Edge
Du Plessis, Kohli: fine players, fine leaders, fine people
Four days before the start of South Africa's series in India in November 2015, Faf du Plessis skulked into a room at the lumberingly named Punjab Cricket Association IS Bindra stadium in Mohali.
Along with his training kit and his beard, he wore something not often seen on his usually bright face.
"We are expecting the worst," Du Plessis told the gathered press from behind a scowl and eyes dark with worry.
"Playing India at home is a lot more aggressive than it used to be, when the pitches would probably spin on days three, four and five. Now they're starting to do that on day one."
Du Plessis was almost a year away from his first test as South Africa's captain, but he wasn't wrong about the Mohali pitch.
By the time the test series reached its dying spasm, even the International Cricket Council had agreed that the pitch for one of the tests, in Nagpur, was poor.
The day before that Delhi match, the man who was then in his first home series as India's captain and is now Du Plessis's counterpart skulked into a room at the butt ugly Feroz Shah Kotla wearing his training kit, a slouchy beanie, and a smear of disgust.
"Articles are there to be written," Virat Kohli snapped at reporters with barely bridled scorn. "It's the mindset or an opinion of someone. I don't relate to it or understand it and I certainly don't entertain it. It doesn't bother me or the team."
We're not here to hide from mistakes
What Kohli didn't relate to, understand, entertain and wasn't bothered by was the press's fixation on the pitches the series was played on. Or so he said."I don't understand why we are not sitting here talking about the fact that we are 2-0 up in the series," Kohli rasped malevolently.
"We're not here to hide from any mistakes, but if that's the only thing that's going to be raised in press conferences and debates, as a cricketer you don't find any sense to answer those questions after a while."
Du Plessis is captaining South Africa for the 18th time in Centurion this weekend and Kohli has been in charge of India for 34 tests.
That's a lot of time and opportunity for growth as cricketers, leaders and people who don't allow their moods to be set by slabs of rolled mud and grass...