Should Virat Kohli…be in India’s T20 World Cup squad? Should he not? The burning question in every Indian fan’s mind. Rohit Sharma is getting increasingly annoyed with every press conference (Here are his conferences after the 1st ODI and 2nd ODI vs England).
Virat Kohli has now been rested for the West Indies 5-match T20I series. India’s series against South Africa and Ireland gave a hint of India’s new aggressive gameplay and how the future might look without Kohli. These five games against the West Indies will make it clear, can India survive without Virat Kohli?
Here is my take—Virat Kohli should be in the Indian T20 World Cup squad but as a floater, not the #3 batter.
Table of Contents
- What are the Pros of Having Virat Kohli in India’s T20 World Cup Squad?
- What are the Cons of Having Virat Kohli in India’s T20 World Cup Squad?
- Virat Kohli’s T20I Stats Since December 2020 (Post-Pandemic Break)
- Possible Scenarios for Virat Kohli
- Final Thoughts
What are the Pros of Having Virat Kohli in India’s T20 World Cup Squad?
Several international players have come to Virat Kohli’s defense. Rohit Sharma reiterated that even though each player suffers from ups and downs in his or her career, the player’s quality never reduces. Here are some other reasons why a player like Virat Kohli might be valuable in a T20 World Cup.
- Experience matters in a World Cup
- Great record across formats in Australia consistently for the past 14 years
- Player of the tournament in 2014/2016 T20 World Cups. Single handedly carried India.
- Although IPL record is poor, his recent T20I stats have been pretty decent
Virat Kohli’s T20I Stats Since December 2020 (Post-Pandemic Break)
One of the misconceptions from Virat Kohli’s bad form is due to all formats getting mixed – Tests, ODIs, T20Is, and IPL. He has horrid IPL seasons and been found out at the Test level at times as well, but in ODIs and T20Is, he has been pretty solid.
- In Australia (December 2020)
- 9 (9)
- 40 (24)
- 85 (61)
- Vs England in India (Match 2021)
- T20 WC
- 57 (49) vs Pakistan
- 9 (17) vs New Zealand
- DNB vs Afghanistan
- 2* (2) vs Scotland
- DNB vs Namibia
- West Indies (Feb 2022)
- 17 (13)
- 52 (41)
- England (July 2022)
- 1 (3)
- 11 (6)
Source: Virat Kohli StatsGuru
In summary, since Dec 2020, Virat Kohli in T20Is has stats:
17 matches, 15 innings, 514 runs, 46.72 average, 134.55 SR, best of 85, 6 fifties, 1 duck
Here are his overall career T20I stats:
99 matches, 91 innings, 3308 runs, 50.12 average, 137.66 SR, best of 94*, 30 fifties, 3 ducks
What are the Cons of Having Virat Kohli in India’s T20 World Cup Squad?
Now that we have discussed some of the positives, now let us discuss what is on everybody’s mind. Kapil Dev, Venkatesh Prasad, and lots of other cricketers have asked for players to be picked on form and merit, not reputation.
So, what are the cons of Virat Kohli in a T20 World Cup side?
- Low Strike Rate in the Modern T20 Age
- Needs some time to get going unlike a Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, or Deepak Hooda at #3, who can continue the momentum
- Can get bogged down by spin in T20s during the middle phase
- Does not offer another skill (bowling, keeping, and unfortunately, no longer captaincy)
To give a complete picture, here are Virat Kohli’s stats in the last three IPLs:
- IPL 2020
- 15 matches, 466 runs, 42.36 average, 121.35 SR, 3 50s, best of 90*
- IPL 2021
- 15 matches, 405 runs, 28.92 average, 119.46 SR, 3 50s, best of 72*
- IPL 2022
- 16 matches, 341 runs, 22.73 average, 115.99 SR, 2 50s, best of 73
So, is there a way to fitting Virat Kohli in the squad while considering both of these things?
The answer is YES. Virat Kohli can play a similar role to what Steve Smith played during Australia’s 2021 T20 World Cup victory run.
Possible Scenarios for Virat Kohli
Since India are going with an ultra-aggressive batting approach, there will be volatile days when the team may collapse. Going for 225 everyday, the team might end up collapsing for a score below 100.
In this case, a Grant Elliot-esque insurance policy is needed. For India, Virat Kohli can be that insurance policy (In the current setup, either Dinesh Karthik comes in earlier to do this role or Axar Patel has been sent to delay DK’s entry. In both cases, India lost momentum. Virat Kohli instead of Axar Patel would be the ideal scenario)
Here are some get possible scenarios:
- If openers have a blazing start, send in Sanju Samson-Suryakumar Yadav-Hardik Pandya, etc. depending on the situation/number of overs left. Push Virat Kohli down the order until absolutely necessary.
- If an opener gets out early, still send Suryakumar Yadav in hoping he will continue the positive approach. However, if another wicket falls during this tricky phase, send Virat Kohli at #4 to stem the flow of wickets.
- While chasing, if it is a tricky small run-chase in difficult batting conditions, send Virat Kohli at #3.
- Another option is to carry him in the World Cup squad without playing him in the XI. In case another batter is horridly out of form during the World Cup or gets injured, Virat Kohli can adapt to whatever role is necessary.
In this way, India will still be utilizing Virat Kohli’s core skills and experience rather than expecting him to be India’s modern T20 #3 batter.
Rohit Sharma made it clear in his press conference that each player will be given confidence, especially since India are trying to play with a new approach. Failures will happen, but judgements should not be made based on one or two series.
These were my two cents. I have presented you with both perspectives. What do you think? Which side are you on?
Here is the Quora article that instigated this idea.
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