ICC T20 World Cup: Should Virat Kohli open the batting for India?

A 15-member Indian squad has been announced by the BCCI for the upcoming ICC T20 World Cup in Australia, starting next month. All eyes will be on Virat Kohli, who enjoyed a solid Asia Cup 2022 campaign held in the UAE. Kohli, who mainly batted at number three in the tournament, came on as an opener in India’s Super Four clash versus Afghanistan. Kohli went on to smash a sensational 122* from 61 balls, striking at 200.00 and ending his drought in terms of tons across formats. 

He took 1020 days to end the drought. Kohli looked so calm and composed in the opening role. He has batted in this position several times, and in the past, Rohit Sharma had highlighted that he and Kohli could be a serious option in the opening. Here we analyze if Kohli should open the batting for India in the World T20.

India’s major weapon is their top-order

India’s strength in batting lies in the top-order. The likes of Rohit, KL Rahul, and Kohli form the crux of the side when it comes to carrying the onus of runs scoring. In the T20 World Cup, India need consistency across departments, and in batting, runs everywhere will be welcome. But looking at India’s trajectory, the top-order is where many dependencies exist. So that’s where India need to pick their best three and find a balance. Notably, Rohit, Rahul, and Kohli have also scored the most T20I runs for India.

Should Rahul be pushed to three?

KL Rahul will need to find his rhythm back ahead of the World Cup, and he has a series against Australia and South Africa, respectively, to sharpen his blade. If Rahul finds runs, this will be a blessing, and India can then take a call on his position. Having Rohit and Kohli ahead of him may give Rahul much more room to pace his innings accordingly. Rahul is a quality player, but he often takes a bit more time than usual, which puts pressure. In Australia, Rahul has 108 runs in T20Is, with a solitary fifty. If Rahul doesn’t have the desired impact in the upcoming two series at home, he could be pushed to number three.

Kohli can be ominous as an opener

Kohli has shown that he can be equally effective as an opener, just like at number three. Besides complimenting skipper Rohit, he has all the shots in his armor and can play to his strengths. The onus will not only be on Rohit to score quick runs as having Kohli takes off the pressure. His ability to find the gaps and work for runs can help India accelerate quickly. Kohli can also shift gears quickly, and that can make him an ominous choice as an opener. Kohli has batted as an opener for RCB several times and has found success. 

Kohli as an opener versus number three

In nine innings as an opener in T20Is, Kohli has hammered 400 runs. He averages 57.14, and his strike rate reads a dominant 57.14. He has one hundred and two fifties while coming on as an opener. However, the bulk of Kohli’s runs has come at number three. He has amassed 2623 runs at 54.65. His strike rate dips a bit low to 135.07. He has smashed 27 fifties at number three. Overall, Kohli has scored 3584 runs at an average of 51.94. 

Balance is key as we decode India’s starting XI 

India need to find the desired balance in order to find success on Australian pitches. India missed the trick in the ICC T20 World Cup 2021 and also fizzled out in the Asia Cup, where several aspects were lacking. So choosing your best XI in terms of contribution and ideas can be the first step to success. This should be India’s playing XI for the T20 World Cup.

Playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, KL Rahul, Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Dinesh Karthik, Axar Patel, Harshal Patel, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah. Bench – Rishabh Pant, R Ashwin, Arshdeep Singh, Deepak Hooda.


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