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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Why Virat Kohli Is India's T20 'Lion'

Why Virat Kohli Is India's T20 'Lion'

By REDIFF CRICKET
January 15, 2024 12:42 IST
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'Till the time he is there, the chances of India winning are high.'

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: Virat Kohli's explosive 29 off 16 balls in the 2nd T20I against Afghanistan showcased a departure from his traditional batting style.&nbPhotograph: BCCI
 

Former cricketer Aakash Chopra lauded Virat Kohli's recent shift to a more aggressive playing style but raised a crucial concern regarding the coming T20 World Cup.

Chopra suggested that, given the anticipated challenging conditions in the West Indies and the USA, Kohli's role in the Indian team might need to evolve into that of an anchor.

Kohli's explosive 29 off 16 balls in the 2nd T20I against Afghanistan showcased a departure from his traditional batting style, signalling a potentially new approach.

Chopra acknowledged Kohli's capability to adopt such an aggressive stance.

'I think he did something like this before the last T20 World Cup. He tried to hit from the word go. See, he is capable of doing it. If Virat Kohli decides that he wants to be aggressive from the word go, if he wants to show that kind of intent, he will do it. No doubt about it,' Aakash Chopra told Jio Cinema.

'But you have to think about what avatar of Virat Kohli is best suited for the team. You have to figure that out. Going after every delivery -- that approach will neither suit Virat nor Rohit (Sharma), I will be very honest.'

'When you are talking about the West Indies and the USA, the pitches there are likely to be in the range of 150-160. They are not going to be 200-220 pitches. If that is going to be the case, then Virat Kohli needs to be the anchor. He needs to take the game deep and hold the innings together. His approach will give freedom to the rest of the players. I think his role in T20s is going to be the same,' he added.

Chopra emphasised Kohli's pivotal role as a top-scorer in the 2022 T20 World Cup and the ODI World Cup, asserting that Kohli's ability to anchor innings sets him apart.

Virat Kohli

IMAGE: Akash Chopra explained that Virat Kohli, like a lion, instills fear in opponents even if he doesn't dominate every moment. Photograph: BCCI

Acknowledging Kohli's capability to adopt an aggressive stance, Chopra stressed on the importance of determining the best avatar of Kohli for the team.

'If you expect Virat Kohli to come and strike every delivery and score at at a rate of 180-200, you will be underselling Virat Kohli. You need Virat Kohli's strike rate to stay at 139, if he goes in search of 189, then his consistency will go away,' Chopra said.

Drawing an analogy with a jungle and a lion, Chopra explained that Kohli, like a lion, instills fear in opponents even if he doesn't dominate every moment.

'Why are we scared of going into the jungle? Because there is the lion. The lion doesn't eat you all the time, but the fear is there because you know that the lion is there. Likewise, Virat Kohli is the lion here. He will be there in the middle, he might not hurt you as much, but you know till the time he is there, the chances of India winning are high. He will be able to switch gears anytime and finish games.'

'It's important that Virat Kohli stays in the middle like it's important for the lion is there in the jungle. Whether it hunts or not is a separate story.'

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