Asia Cup: Will Kohli Seal T20 World Cup Berth?

BENGALURU | Updated: 22 August, 2022 5:39 pm IST

As the Asia Cup 2022, which will be played in the T20 format, gets underway on August 27, all the teams participating in it will use it as a platform to prepare for the upcoming T20 World Cup. The Indian team at present has a solid bench-strength and is spoilt for choices with a host of youngsters jostling with each other to secure their places in the squad for the marquee tournament.

However, all eyes will be on Virat Kohli, who at present is standing at a crossroads. The 33-year-old has been in the throes of a low patch in the T20Is since last year’s World T20. In his last 8 T20Is, Kohli has scored only one fifty and has clearly starved for runs. Many former cricketers, including Kapil Dev, have been asking for his axing from the team. Kapil and Ajay Jadeja have publicly proclaimed that Kohli cannot be selected for the next T20 World Cup on the basis of his past performance and reputation.

To make matters worse, he has inexplicably skipped many T20Is series this year. Selectors decided to ‘rest’ him for the T20I series against Sri Lanka in February and South Africa in June. The most astonishing decision was not including him for the recent T20I series against the West Indies in which India thumped the hosts 4-1 in the five-match series. Whether Kohli himself requested for the rest or selectors themselves decided to not pick him isn’t clear, but that has done more harm to him than good.

The fact that Kohli has been chosen in the squad for the Asia Cup is a clear indication that Kohli is still in their scheme of things for the T20 World Cup and hasn’t gone off the radar. So if the team management and the selectors have decided to back Kohli to the hilt, what was the reasoning behind ‘resting’ him for these series?

Playing against teams such as Sri Lanka and the West Indies would have given Kohli a lot of opportunities to regain his lost mojo before the important T20 World Cup. The chances of him succeeding against these teams, which are much weaker than India, were high. It would have done a world of good to his confidence if he had scored heaps of runs against them. But that didn’t happen.

He did play a couple of T20Is against England but was hustled out for 1 and 11. As a result, he is still grappling with patchy form. Now, he is left only with the Asia Cup to get into the groove. Cutting opportunities for Kohli to roar back to form was an awful decision, especially because he’s a key player in the team.

For the first time in the last 10 years, Kohli’s place in the team – for the T20I format – is in jeopardy. He has to come out all guns blazing in the Asia Cup to seal his place beyond any doubt for the T20 World Cup. Another failure might see him not getting picked for the premier championship.

There’s an intense competition in the Indian team at present for slots in the middle-order. Players such as Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Deepak Hooda, Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya have done exceedingly well in the recent past. Shreyas Iyer and Axar Patel, the all-rounder, are standbys for the Asia Cup and hence are in the reckoning.

Despite their shimmering success in white-ball cricket, India have not won a single ICC trophy since 2013. For such an important ICC event, where the Indian team is gearing up to pull out all the stops to emerge victorious, selectors will be risking too much if they opt for an out-of-form Kohli.

That’s why it is paramount for Kohli to come good in the Asia Cup and not only seal his berth for the T20 World Cup but also give a second wind to his sagging T20I career.

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