After opening the innings in India's 36-run win over England in the fifth and final T20I, skipper Virat Kohli claimed that he'll continue to bat at the top of the order for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
"Yes, I am going to open in the IPL as well. Look, I have batted in different positions in the past but I feel we do have a solid middle order now. Would definitely like to partner Rohit at the top. Because if we have a partnership and both are set, you know, one of us is going to cause some serious damage and that is exactly what we want," explained Virat Kohli.
This means that Virat Kohli will partner Devdutt Padikkal, who finished last year's IPL as RCB's leading run-getter and winner of the Emerging Player Award.
The Kohli-Padikkal partnership looks absolutely lethal on paper. They form a splendid right-left combination of youth and experience, while allowing mavericks AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell to spend more time in the middle.
The idea behind the move is to allow Virat Kohli to anchor the innings as an opener, with the principle being that the best batsmen in the team should face the most balls. But this decision might spell doom for RCB due to a number of reasons.
Here, we discuss why Virat Kohli shouldn't open the batting for RCB in IPL 2021.
RCB will be too top-heavy if Virat Kohli opens the batting in IPL 2021
Virat Kohli opening the batting for RCB would leave them highly top-heavy, and a prime example of this was in the team's heartbreaking loss to the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator of IPL 2020.
The RCB skipper promoted himself up the order, but fell to nemesis Sandeep Sharma early in the innings. The team never recovered, and posted a sub-par total that David Warner's side scaled with ease.
This is a problem RCB have faced many times in the past. Even when the destructive Chris Gayle was part of the franchise, the middle order didn't have a settled look to it, and an early wicket or two greatly affected momentum.
The new ball is when opposition bowlers are most dangerous, and Virat Kohli - the most important batsman in the team - might be in the firing line far too early in the piece. Losing an early wicket would put immense pressure on the opener still at the crease, and De Villiers and Maxwell might not be able to play their natural game as well.
For Virat Kohli to open, RCB need to have a solid middle order that can weather the storm in case of a few early wickets. They don't at the moment, and playing Kohli at the very top of the order could be a disaster for the side.
Both Virat Kohli and Devdutt Padikkal take time to get their eye in
Another reason why Virat Kohli shouldn't open the batting is his compatibility with Padikkal. The young southpaw scored 473 runs in 15 IPL 2020 matches, but his strike rate was rather unimpressive at 124.8.
Padikkal is a consistent batsman, but he isn't a dasher early on in the innings. Either he or Kohli would have to throw caution to wind and come out of their comfort zone if RCB are to post big totals in the powerplay and set the platform for the middle order to express themselves.
Moreover, with the withdrawal of Josh Philippe, RCB will probably be forced to field an Indian wicket-keeper in Mohammed Azharuddeen or KS Bharat. AB de Villiers can't be risked as the full-time gloveman, while Finn Allen is completely inexperienced at the international level.
Azharuddeen is the frontrunner for the role, and he's best used as an opener. Either way, apart from De Villiers and Maxwell, three middle-order slots have to be filled up, and at least one of these must be an Indian batsman. None of the domestic batsmen on the RCB roster are finishers - they are all top-order batsmen for their state sides, and would be wasted at No. 5 or No. 6.
Virat Kohli is arguably the best batsman in the world, and there's no doubt that he'll score a mountain of runs if he plays as an opener. But as the captain of RCB, he might need to make a few sacrifices for the betterment of the side.