"He will have to tone down his aggression a little" - Mohammad Kaif on Virat Kohli heading into India's 2024 T20 World Cup clash vs Pakistan

India v Ireland - ICC Men
Virat Kohli was dismissed cheaply in India's opening game against Ireland.

Mohammad Kaif has urged Virat Kohli to play slightly more cautiously in India's 2024 T20 World Cup clash against Pakistan in New York on Sunday, June 9. He opined that it would be good enough if the modern batting great scores at a strike rate close to 130.

Kohli scored a solitary run off five deliveries and was caught at third man while attempting a big shot in India's tournament opener against Ireland. He would want to give a better account of himself against arch-rivals Pakistan.

During a discussion on Star Sports, Kaif was asked whether Kohli would be a danger to Pakistan.

"Forget Pakistan, Virat Kohli is a danger for every team. Any team that plays against him won't find it that easy to get him out. However, I feel he will have to tone down his aggression a little. He could score only one run off five balls in the last match, stepped down the wicket, got a top edge, and got out," he responded.

While acknowledging that Kohli has been in dominant form, the cricketer-turned-commentator opined that the Indian batting mainstay's role should be to bat deep and score close to 70 runs.

"Virat Kohli has form and is coming after playing exceptionally well in the IPL. He scored close to 700 runs. We saw the domination where he was attacking in the powerplay and hitting boundaries, playing slog sweeps, and hitting sixes against spin," Kaif said.
"He is able to play every shot but I feel he needs to tone down his strike rate slightly. Go at a strike rate of around 130 and don't run close to 140-150. His role will be to bat 15 to 20 overs and score 60-70 runs. 70 runs from Virat Kohli's bat will be a very good knock. Take a little time at the start, wait for the bad balls, and then play your shots," he added.

Kohli was the Orange Cap winner in IPL 2024, with his 741 runs in 15 innings coming at an impressive strike rate of 154.69. However, he might have to play a little more circumspectly against Pakistan, considering the seamer-friendly pitch in New York.

"I feel he can probably play at No. 3 as well" - Mohammad Kaif on Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli opened for India against Ireland.
Virat Kohli opened for India against Ireland.

Mohammad Kaif reckons Virat Kohli might be better off batting at No. 3 against Pakistan.

"I feel he can probably play at No. 3 as well. He opened and I can understand that he will open tomorrow as well, but I feel No. 3 is Virat Kohli's right position on such a pitch where the ball is moving. He can play till the end, run in the middle overs, and punish the bad balls," he reasoned.

The former India batter added that Kohli's approach should be similar to the one he had in the 2022 T20 World Cup game against Pakistan.

"You don't need a strike rate of 150 on this pitch. Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah will be there - watch the ball and play proper cricketing shots. The shot against Haris Rauf we show repeatedly, he watched the ball properly in that shot, there was no slogging and no movement. He just stood there, watched the ball, and hit a straight six. Virat Kohli will have to do the same job here as well," Kaif explained.

Kohli scored an unbeaten 82 off 53 deliveries in India's four-wicket win against Pakistan in Melbourne in the last T20 World Cup. He smoked Haris Rauf for back-to-back sixes off the last two balls of the penultimate over to sway the game in the Men in Blue's favor when they needed 28 runs off eight deliveries.

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