Ahead of the three-match T20I series against Australia, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma made a significant statement on Sunday. Sharma stated that Virat Kohli could be tried as an opener in the T20 World Cup if the need arises.
Ahead of the three-match T20I series against Australia, Indian skipper Rohit Sharma made a significant statement on Sunday.
Sharma stated that Virat Kohli could be tried as an opener in the T20 World Cup if the need arises. “Virat Kohli opening the innings is certainly a possibility and we will always keep that in mind. Since we have not taken a third opener, he opens for his franchise in the IPL and he has done really well, so it is a definite option for us,” he said.
“Virat Kohli is our third opener. We were happy with the way he played in the last match of the Asia Cup. It is always nice to have options available to you. It is important going into a World Cup that you have flexibility. You want the players to be in the best shape batting at any position,” Rohit added.
However, the 35-year-old was careful to not throw KL Rahul – who opened the innings for India in the Asia Cup on his return after injury – under the bus. While he put forth Kohli’s name as a possible opener, he did not rule Rahul out either.
“Rahul is a very important player for Team India. For us, I just want to make it clear. We are very clear about what KL Rahul brings to the table for us. There is no confusion. He is a quality player and his presence at the top is very crucial for us,” the Indian captain asserted.
Kohli roared back to form after a long time by smashing two half-centuries and a ton in the Asia Cup. In India’s last ‘Super Four’ match against Afghanistan, the audacious batter cracked an unbeaten 122* – the highest score by an Indian in the T20Is – while opening the innings in the absence of Rohit.
After a long time, Kohli looked fabulously fluent and masterfully crafted a magnificent innings. The way he cranked up the tempo at the right time by reeling off a gamut of shots was enormously impressive.
On the other hand, Rahul had a poor series on his return after the injury and looked ill at ease. Not only did he fail to make runs, but he mostly scratched around clumsily at the crease and found it tough to time the ball. Even against a minnow, like Hong Kong, he eked out only 36 runs off 39 balls.
India, however, cannot afford to have Rohit, Rahul, and Virat as their top 3 in the batting line-up. While all three are undeniably competent batters, India need a belligerent power-hitter in the top three who can take the attack to bowlers from the word go. In the last couple of years, India’s top three batsmen have mostly failed to make hay in the powerplay and fully optimise the first six overs.
Scoring merely 65-70 runs in the first 10 overs won’t be enough for India, especially when playing a big tournament like the T20 World Cup. Batters like Suryakumar Yadav and Hardik Pandya are in red-hot form and have the wherewithal to bat at no.3.
That leaves Rohit and team management with the dilemma of whether to leave KL Rahul out of the playing XI to accommodate Kohli as an opener.
Rohit is keeping his cards close to his chest at the moment. The fact that he has publicly mentioned Kohli as an option to open the innings with him in the T20 World Cup suggests that he is certainly not averse to the idea. At the same time, it’s too premature to completely rule Rahul out because India are slated to play T20I series against Australia and South Africa before the marquee event.
The captain wants to see how Kohli and Rahul perform in these series before he takes the final call on who will be his opening partner in the T20 World Cup.