India skipper Virat Kohli says he opened in the deciding fifth T20I against England to make a slot for someone like Suryakumar Yadav, who 'is playing the way he is at the moment'.
India skipper Virat Kohli decided to open in cricket’s shortest format to accommodate players like Suryakumar Yadav in the side, but there is no "guarantee" of him taking up the role in the Twenty20 World Cup at home later this year.
The move to open with Rohit Sharma in the fifth T20I in Ahmedabad on Saturday worked wonders, as the star pair played a match-winning knock to seal the five-match series against England.
Kohli said he decided to open to ensure that Suryakumar plays at his preferred No. 3 spot.
Ahead of the first ODI against England, he explained why he opened in the fifth T20 and why he said he would open in the IPL.
"Firstly, the combination that plays on the field, selectors don't have any role to play in that, just how the team management doesn't have any role in selection.
"Secondly, as Rohit mentioned, it was a strategic move, but, yes, we did enjoy batting with each other; we did enjoy that partnership and we saw the effects of us batting together.
"It's not a guarantee that this is going to be continued in future," he said.
Suryakumar had Kohli "stunned" by his knock in his debut game and the India skipper moved up a spot in the batting order to keep the Mumbai batsman in the playing eleven in the following match.
India replaced opener K L Rahul for an extra bowling option in T Natarajan.
"I have batted at four, I have batted at three. Now I want to go back into, you know, understanding my role as an opener as well, which I've done successfully in the past in T20 cricket.
"So that I provide an option to open up a slot for someone like Surya who's playing the way he is at the moment. And if he can continue like that I should be ready to play any kind of role that team requires.
"We will have a conversation about this closer to the World Cup when we get there," he clarified.
Senior opener Shikar Dhawan lost his place in the T20 eleven but Kohli made it clear that he will open with Rohit in the first ODI on Tuesday. He also said the series will serve as extended preparation for the T20 World Cup.
"Yes, there are a couple of things that internally we have discussed that we're going to keep an eye on.
"As far as the opening combination in ODIs is concerned, Shikhar and Rohit will definitely start. When it comes to one-day cricket, I don't think there's any issues or doubts over Rohit and Shikhar opening together. And they've been amazing for us in the past few years."
India have picked Suryakumar, Karnataka pacer Prasidh Krishna and Krunal Pandya for the ODIs.
Though the ODIs have less importance in a T20 World Cup year, Kohli said every India game has immense value, but schedules should be made after due consultation with the players, especially in times of bio-bubbles.
"As I've said in the past many times, scheduling and workload is something that everyone will have to be very aware of and keep an eye out for, especially in today's day and age where you just don't know, where restrictions might come in and you have to, even in future, might have to continue to play in bubbles.
"I think it's very important to consider how much you're playing and it's not just the physical side of things but mental side of things as well.
"The players need to be spoken to and consulted with. Otherwise, it's going to be a case of whoever can last through difficult times like these, plays. If not, you know, move away and someone else replaces that player.
"I don't think that's healthy for a cricket system and a cricket culture moving forward."
In the end, Kohli stoutly defended out-of-form Rahul and elaborated on how the team deals with struggling players.
"I can only think about one thing when people talk about a player who is out of form. Quoting a Hindi song, he said: Kuch toh log kahenge logon ka kaam hain kehna; chodo bekaar ki baaton mein, kahi beet na jaaye raina (it's the job of people to say something; forget all these useless things, else our night will end just around them).
"There is a lot of impatience outside the cricket set-up. People love listening to criticism and it has only increased.
"In the team we know how to manage a player going through a tough patch. It is not as if you forget playing the game; it is just that you don't have the same mental clarity that you would usually have and then there is talk about you, which is another external factor you have to deal with.
"We will continue to back our players and keep them in good mental space."