New Zealand vs India 2020: Virat Kohli reveals KL Rahul batting position, Rohit Sharma's injury and IPL as preparation for T20 World Cup
The three-match ODI series is set to begin from tomorrow and Indian captain Virat Kohli hasn't held back his cards. In the pre-match press conference, the skipper revealed that in-form KL Rahul will bat in the middle-order and keep wickets as well. Kohli also stated that Prithvi Shaw and Mayank Agarwal will be handed their respective ODI debuts.
Rahul ended as the highest run-getter in the T20I series with 224 runs at an average of 56. He also impressed with his work behind the stumps, considering his debut as a keeper at the international stage.
"We are looking to stick to the same plan. KL will bat in the middle-order. We want him to get accustomed to that role and keep as well."
Speaking on Rohit Sharma's injury, Kohli explained how the vice-captain's absence was a huge blow to the team but the incoming batsman need to grab the opportunity with both hands. He stated that Sharma is a significant part of the team in all the three formats of the game now.
"We understand it's an unfortunate situation that Rohit can't be a part of this series. When you talk about one-day cricket and T20 cricket and Test cricket now, he's one guy who's always on the list first. The impact he's had is there for everyone to see. But the thing is that we don't have any one-day tournaments to look forward to. It's, if, anything an ideal time for him to go away and rectify this as soon as he can and come back."
With the opening slot providing for a 'good headache' for the team management, Agarwal and Shaw will have their task cut-out in the limited opportunities they are bound to get. Kohli said that Sharma had played his part in the T20Is, considering the WT20 in Australia later this year.
"He played the T20I series, so from the team's balance point of view heading into the World Cup year, it doesn't really hamper the combination as far as the T20s are concerned. And in one-day cricket, whoever steps in for him. Prithvi's definitely going to start and whoever the replacement - Agarwal - is, we'll ask for an opener."
Speaking on the importance of IPL as the right platform for the WT20 preparation, Kohli stated that the cash-rich league will be utilized by the Indian players to prepare themselves for the much-awaited ICC event. But he reiterated his stance of respecting different formats of the game and playing them differently.
"We have had five T20s already, it's not that we don't have a lot fo T20 cricket. We have IPL as well which is going to be a month and a half of T20 cricket. So we will probably utilise that, I think, because last year you did not have much opportunity to prepare yourselves apart from the games that were in front of you but T20s is very different, as I said. IPL is probably the most competitive tournament you can ask for as a collective and guys will look to get into that frame of mind in that tournament and not this early in a 50-over format because you don't want to play in a different manner."
"You have to respect the format, you have to play according to the pace of the 50-over game and as I spoke of the combination as well, someone like Rahul playing in the middle order, it's about guys getting settled in their roles and repeating that game after game so that they know 'I played this in this format, I have to play this in T20s or similarly in Test cricket'. These things are all about creating good habits for different formats and then being able to switch between them. So no, we are not looking at this series as preparation for T20 World Cup. IPL is going to be the right platform for that."
With the number of dropped catches and misfields increasing with each passing game, Kohli stressed on better standards in the field and even running between the wickets. He stated expressed his concerns over some surprising drops in the outfield and occasional bizarre ground fielding, despite the average age of the current side being as low as 27.
"We definitely have recognised it as something that, if you look at the average age of this team, it's 27 max. So we should be fielding way better than what we have. I think the standards of fielding overall were not that good from either side. T20 cricket it can happen because the game is so fast-paced... So once you get into a nervous zone, it's very difficult to get out of it. It's moving so quickly and the ball keeps coming to you."
"Even in one-day cricket, we have had performances that we are not proud of and there's no hiding from it. We've spoken about it so many times. You certainly expect a young bunch of guys who are very fit and very, very good fielders to do the job for you in the field collectively and not just focus on batting or bowling. It's about taking all three skills seriously and committing to it like bowling or batting. With fielding it's not a matter of execution or result immediately. Things can be taken for granted. That's something that we want to stay away from. The team's heading in the right direction, whatever is lacking we need to be able to correct and move forward."
The three-match ODI series begins tomorrow at Seddon Park in Hamilton, followed by a two-match Test series in Wellington from February 21.
Published 04 Feb 2020, 16:07 IST