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Should Rohit-Kohli Open In T20 World Cup?

January 15, 2024 07:36 IST
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IMAGE: Will Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli open the batting for India in the T20 World Cup? Photograph: BCCI

Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra wants the senior duo of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to open in the T20 World Cup, saying that the pitches in the West Indies and USA will be conducive to scoring quickly in the first six overs of the Powerplay.

Chopra stated that Kohli is normally a slow starter and takes time to hit boundaries, but fielding restrictions in the Powerplay could help him attack right from the start.

'If you see the entire World Cup, Virat Kohli has a playing style and he scores a lot of runs when he follows that template. Even in T20s, he rarely starts hitting fours and sixes from the first ball. He takes his time. If he has to run at a strike rate of 150, he does that in the Powerplay,' Chopra said on his YouTube channel.

IMAGE: Virat Kohli bats during the second T20 International against Afghanistan in Indorem January 14, 2024. Photograph: BCCI

Kohli has been playing as opener for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL and has achieved good results in the past few years. In the nine matches he has opened for India, he has scored 400 runs at an average of 57.14, with a century and three fifties at an impressive rate as an opener is also 161.29.

'In New York or the West Indies, the pitches will be such that there will be more chances of runs getting scored in the first six overs. So ideally, you want Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to be together from the start. If you have to follow that template, start it now,' stated Chopra.

The former India opener reasoned that if Kohli bats at No. 3 then it pushes Suryakumar Yadav to No. 4 which doesn't give SKY enough time to make an impact on the game.

'You are talking about keeping Yashasvi Jaiswal or Shubman Gill. You wanted to play Gill at No. 3. He opened in the last match because Yashasvi was not there, but that is neither your long-term plan nor you have thought anything about it. You already said that Yashasvi is your first opener alongside Rohit and not Gill,' Chopra pointed out.

'So if Yashasvi is available, you will get him to open. However, if you get Yashasvi to open, my problem is not only about Kohli at No. 3. I do not want to keep Suryakumar Yadav at No. 4. I want him at No. 1. Suryakumar Yadav is India's No. 1 T20 batter. So I want him at No. 3 and I want to give him time to drive the game,' he added.

IMAGE: Rohit Sharma is bowled for a first-ball duck by Fazalhaq Farooqi. Photograph: BCCI

However, it will be difficult to dislodge Jaiswal from the opening slot after the young left-hander smashed a brilliant 68 from 34 balls in the second T20 International against Afghanistan to help India seal the three-match series 2-0.

Kohli's return to the Indian T20 team after a long gap of 14 months saw the struggling Shubman Gill get the axe, while Rohit Sharma fell for two ducks in a row. He was run out in the first T20I against Afghanistan, while he fell for a first-ball duck after attempting a wild swipe across the line off pacer Fazalhaq Farooqi in Indore.

The only consolation for Rohit apart from the series triumph was that he became the first cricketer to play 150th T20 Internationals.

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