Virat Kohli, who went through a dry run of form, rediscovered his lost mojo during the Asia Cup 2022, where he hit his first international century since November 2019. His ton versus Afghanistan was his first in the 20-over format as he touched the three-figure score in nearly three years – his last hundred coming in a Test match against Bangladesh. Also Read | ‘India cannot win World Cup if…’: Gambhir issues stern warning to Rohit and co before ‘competitive’ Australia T20Is
Kohli’s return to form while opening the innings reignited debate whether he should be preferred over KL Rahul, who saw a mediocre tournament as he managed just 132 runs from five innings. With the World T20 less than a month away, Rahul’s form is a major concern for the side but former Australia opener Matthew Hayden has backed him at the top, as he feels ‘world-class’ Kohli can deliver at the No. 3 spot.
“Virat, you know, he’s such a great player of fast bowling, and Australia’s full of fast bowling in their cricket team and they are relying heavily on Adam Zampa through the middle stages now. Pointers to take pace off the ball, Mitch Marsh as well, he’ll handle him nicely,” the 50-year-old said in a Star Sports press conference.
Former India opener Gautam Gambhir also backed Rahul to continue opening the innings, saying the batter should be allowed to play freely with ‘insecurity’ exerting influence on an out-of-form player.
“And this great debate around Virat batting up, GG (Gambhir) and I have already had this over the last couple of days, there’s no way that he has to open the batting, he has to bat at number 3, simple as that. And again, it’s another one of those things that you don’t want to let the door open the discussion on this,” said Hayden.
“You don’t want to have a doubt, you don’t want to have K.L Rahul in the masterful form that he’s been in of late and Rohit Sharma who is captain of the team thinking ‘I’ve got to kind of watch my spot here that you know I’m an opening batsman and my job is to play with freedom’ and unfortunately, when you start having these debates and you start thinking ‘oh maybe he, for his game, it should be him opening’, I’m sure he wouldn’t want to entertain that and put pressure.”
“The one thing that you want to alleviate in the World Cup is the pressure. Just let the batting order rely on its own form and Virat Kohli can handle the situation. He’s a world-class player, he can bat at three and he should bat at three in my opinion,” he added.
ROHIT ON VIRAT VS RAHUL DEBATE
Rohit Sharma also confirmed that Kohli might have to bat at top in some games but Rahul will open at the next month’s T20 World Cup. Speaking to media ahead of the three-match T20 International series versus Australia, Rohit underlined the importance of Rahul in the current Indian set-up.
“Rahul bhai and I have had a chat that we will have to make Virat open in some of the games because he is our third opener. In the last match we saw what he did (as opener) and we are obviously happy about that,” Rohit said referring to Kohli’s hundred against Afghanistan.
“K L Rahul will open for us at the T20 World Cup. We are not going to experiment with that position a lot. His performances often go noticed. He is a very important player for India,” he added.