Virat Kohli’s magnificent 52 ball 80* in the final T20I against England has left many gushing about the prospect of playing the Indian skipper as an opener. Many feel Virat Kohli should open with Rohit Sharma in the shortest format of the game.
The move worked wonders for India, as the hosts powered to 224/2 in the series decider. Virat Kohli played out 20 overs, while him opening allowed India to field an additional bowler as well. His chemistry with Rohit Sharma at the top was a big plus too.
But former India selector Devang Gandhi warned everyone against getting ahead of themselves. While speaking to The Times of India, he suggested how the Indian middle-order will be short of experience if Virat Kohli opens for India in the T20 World Cup.
"It's all fine when you're 100-1, but cricket is such a game that you can also be 20-2 in a knock-out game. In such situations, experience in the middle-order becomes very crucial. I believe Kohli at No. 3 is a better option and he can guide the young lot who will be playing their first World Cup.”
Virat Kohli’s move to the top of the order saw India field Suryakumar Yadav, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya and Shreyas Iyer as the next four batsmen. Although the players have performed well in recent months, out of those only Hardik Pandya was part of India’s squad in the 2016 World Cup.
Saturday’s performance was the perfect example of how Virat Kohli’s move to the top of the order can improve the side’s balance. However, it will be interesting to see how the middle order copes if the formidable pair of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli fails to fire.
Although India aren’t scheduled to play any more T20Is before the World Cup, media reports suggest the BCCI is planning to hold a couple of series with South Africa and New Zealand. If the events materialize, India would do well to test out the middle order in pressure situations to be sure of their batting line up come the T20 World Cup.
Virat Kohli as an opener does not impact Shikhar Dhawan, feels Gandhi
Many feel Virat Kohli’s stunning showing at the top of the order isn’t good news for other Indian openers. Shikhar Dhawan played just one game for India before being dropped, while KL Rahul amassed only 15 runs across four games.
But Devang Gandhi feels Shikhar Dhawan still has a role to play, pointing out to the huge squads India have put out in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the Covid protocols still in place, I will be really surprised if the T20 World Cup squad is restricted to 15. The way things are at the moment, it is about staying in the mix and Dhawan, being a proven performer, will be there in the squad. The IPL, though, is huge for him, but then, that's true for most of the others as well."
Shikhar Dhawan and Co will get another chance to prove their credentials as openers when India take on England in the three-match ODI series. The first game takes place in Pune on March 23.