Virat Kohli clarified India have not finalised their opening combination for the T20 World Cup, despite the success he and Rohit Sharma enjoyed at the top in the final T20I. The Indian skipper admitted opening in T20s is an option, but is keen to keep his options open ahead of the ICC event.
Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli stitched together a stellar 94-run partnership as India powered their way to 224/2 in the series decider against England. Many compared the duo to Sachin and Sehwag, suggesting a combination of the highest run-getters in T20Is will be a perfect fit for India.
Virat Kohli spoke to the media in a virtual press conference on Monday. He admitted Saturday’s experiment turned out to be a positive one, but he refused to give any sureties regarding India’s opening combination.
“As Rohit mentioned, it was a strategic move (Virat Kohli opening against England). Yes, we did enjoy batting with each other and we did enjoy that partnership. We saw the effects of us batting together and knowing that we have 20 overs to play what it can do to an opposition. It is not a guarantee that this is going to be continued in the future. But as I said I am going to open in the IPL to keep all options open,” said Virat Kohli.
Saturday’s game marked the first time Virat Kohli has opened alongside Rohit Sharma in T20Is. Many feel Virat Kohli’s move was a nudge to the selectors that the Rohit-Kohli combination could be a permanent thing in T20Is. But Virat Kohli doesn’t feel so, reiterating that the move was purely strategic.
“The combination that plays on the field, the selectors don’t have any role to play in that. Just how the management does not have any role in selection,” said the Team India skipper.
Want to open up a slot for Suryakumar Yadav, says Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli’s decision to move away from his preferred No.3 slot allowed the hosts to play Suryakumar Yadav in the final two games. The 30-year-old grabbed the opportunity with both hands, scoring 89 runs at a strike rate of 185.41 across his first two games in international cricket.
The skipper played around with his batting position during the T20 series, batting at numbers 3 and 4 as well. He explained how flexibility in his batting position allows India to field the in-form Suryakumar Yadav.
“I batted at 4, I batted at 3. Now I want to go back to understanding my role as an opener as well which I have done successfully in the past in T20 cricket so that I can provide an option to open up a slot for someone like Surya who is playing the way he is at the moment,” said Virat Kohli.
Concluding the discussion around him being India's permanent opener, Virat Kohli called for patience. He said a final call on his batting position will only be taken after his performance as an opener for the Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2021 is taken into account.
“If he can continue like that, then I should be ready to play any kind of role that the team requires. That’s all there is to it right now. We will have a conversation about this closer to the World Cup when we get there. Right now, we have ODI cricket and then IPL to follow, so it will be interesting to see how I go about playing as an opener in the IPL,” signed off Virat Kohli.
Irrespective of his batting position, Virat Kohli will look to end his century drought when India take on England in the ODI series. The Indian skipper last scored an international ton in 2019 and will target a century before the ODI series comes to an end.