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'Pant Should Open; Kohli Back To No. 3'

June 13, 2024 16:32 IST
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IMAGE: Will India try out Rishabh Pant as opener in place of the struggling Virat Kohli? Photograph: BCCI/X

With three wins in a row India have sealed their position in the T20 World Cup Super Eight stage, but some concerns still remain.

Virat Kohli's form has been a major worry for the Indians as his switch to the opening position has not worked well.

Kohli replaced regular opener Yashasvi Jaiswal at the top of the order but has struggled in seamer-friendly conditions with scores of 1, 4 and 0 in the first three matches against Ireland, Pakistan and the USA at the at the Nassau stadium in New York.

Jaiswal has a good record as opener in T20 Internationals with 500 runs in 17 games at a strike rate of 161. In IPL 2024 he stroked 435 runs in 16 games at a strike rate of 155. But India have preferred Kohli at the top of the order after he finished as the top run-getter in IPL 2024 with 741 runs at a strike rate of 154 while playing as the opener for RCB.

Former India player Mohammad Kaif says in difficult conditions in the USA and the West Indies, India should send Kohli to bat at No. 3, a position where he has batted most of his career for India in ODIs and T20Is.

'The main advantage of batting at No. 3 is that you can analyse the game from the outside before you walk out to bat, as to what the bowlers are trying to do and how the pitch is behaving. Virat Kohli is a master of analysing things from the outside like what the bowlers are doing,' Kaif said in a video posted on X.

'I believe that Kohli should bat at No. 3. He is opening the batting but it has been easy for the batters in seaming conditions, so you want Kohli at No. 3.'

Kaif stated that Kohli's normal style of batting of taking time to get his eye in would work well in these conditions.

'He opened in the IPL where the pitches were flat and he played attacking cricket. But here you don't need to attack, you need to preserve your wicket which Kohli does normally. At No. 3 he will get the time to spend time at the wicket, analyse how to bat in those conditions according to the situation of the match. If he scores 50-60 not out it will benefit the team because this has not been a high-scoring World Cup.

'And when he goes to the West Indies (for the Super Eight stage) there also you will have slow pitches so batting again won't be that easy. I think that No. 3 is best suited for him where he did well in the ODI World Cup, his record at No. 3 is outstanding and that position is best suited for him.

Interestingly, Kaif wants Rishabh Pant to take over Kohli's role as opener. Pant has done well in the T20 World Cup at the No. 3 position with scores 36 not out, 42 and 18 on the testing pitches in New York.

'If Rishabh Pant can switch from No. 5 to No. 3 then he can switch from No. 3 to opener as well. The other advantage is that you will get a right-hander and left-hander as the openers.'

'After the openers, Kohli at No. 3 and Suryakumar Yadav at No. 4, this would be our best batting line-up in the upcoming matches.'

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