CHENNAI: When Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav ganguly started to open the bat in the ODIs for India in the late 1990s, they laid the groundwork for the theory that the top two batsmen in limited overs should have the maximum number of balls to face.
The theory has evolved over the years, but Virat Kohli’s decision to promote himself to open on Saturday against England seemed an extension of that and it worked like magic. His 94-point stand with Rohit Sharma laid the groundwork for a superb Indian victory, Kohli himself had 20 overs to control the innings, while India was able to play the extra bowler which is crucial in the international T20. Even more with the dew that sets in.
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And when Kohli said at the end of the match he was going to open in IPL it also meant that the Indian captain was considering that option for the T20 World Cup in India later this year.
“Yes I’m going to open in the IPL… We have a solid middle order now – these are the top two players who get the maximum number of balls in T20 cricket. The other guys feel confident when one of us is there, ”Kohli said, giving a plan for the future.
It is worth noting that India has no more T20Is scheduled after this before the World Cup, although BCCI is trying to organize a few matches against South Africa and New Zealand before the flagship event.
If Kohli keeps his word and chooses to open in the T20s, there are implications for the other big players on the squad as well. That could well mean that Shikhar Dhawan, who is still a great T20 opener, could struggle to find a place in the squad.
Former India selector Devang Gandhi, however, believes it is a bit too early to write off Dhawan. “With the Covid protocols still in place, I’ll be really surprised if the T20 World Cup squad is capped at 15. The way things are right now, it’s about staying in the mix and Dhawan, being a proven artist, will be there in the team… The IPL, however, is huge for him, but it is true for most of the others as well, ”Gandhi told TOI.
As the captain decides to open up, KL Rahul also finds himself in a tough spot after a streak of low scores in the series. But he’s a player who can also be considered in the middle order, as his wicket guard abilities give him an extra buffer.
The benefits of having Kohli in the lead will mean that there will be plenty of options for India. Former Indian opener and selectors chairman Krishnamachari Srikkanth believes that with Ravindra Jadeja entering this XI as a No.7, it will be an explosive batting lineup. “They’re already a brilliant team. Kohli has the ability to control the innings as Rohit tries his shots and once the power play is over the captain’s ability to play big shots and maneuver will be a huge plus.” Srikkanth said.
On paper this seems like a brilliant option, more so with Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Hardik pandya, Rishabh pants and Ishan Kishan well shaped in the middle. Indian team management are spoiled for choice and it looks like they can field two equally powerful XIs for the T20 World Cup.
But Gandhi is a bit skeptical, especially after his experiences as a selector in the 2019 50 Plus World Cup semi-finals when the Indian middle order lacked strength after losing a few wickets. early against New Zealand in the semi-finals.
“Everything is fine when you are at 100-1, but cricket is such a game that you can also be 20-2 in a knockout match. In such situations, the experience in the middle order becomes very. crucial … I I think Kohli in 3rd row is a better option and he can guide the youngsters who will play their first World Cup, ”said Gandhi.
These are the permutations and combinations that Indian team management will be working on when players enter IPL mode next month to prepare for the fight for the T20 World Cup.